By translating technical jargon into more approachable and accessible language, medical marketers can help bridge the gap between patients and healthcare professionals.
According to a 2017 survey from the American Psychiatric Association, nearly two thirds of Americans are “somewhat or extremely concerned” about their health and safety. Yet one third have reported having negative experiences specifically related to physicians and healthcare organizations when trying to find medical care. Additional reports indicate that Americans don’t trust healthcare professionals as much as they used to.
All of this points to a central contradiction: patients worry about their health, but they also don’t like seeing their doctors. So how can healthcare providers more effectively reach out to patients and reestablish a sense of trust?
The Divide Between Providers and Patients
One barrier that remains between providers and patients is the terminology that’s used to discuss medical care. The human body is made up of many complex systems, and doctors and healthcare professionals have spent years learning how these systems work. This has resulted in highly technical medical jargon, which makes it easier for doctors and other professionals to be precise and accurate in their communication. However, this language doesn’t always translate well when communicating directly with patients.
Consider the difference between telling a patient, “You have gastroenteritis,” and explaining, “Your stomach lining and intestines are inflamed.” The first can be alienating for someone who isn’t familiar with medical jargon, while the second offers a more accessible explanation for the patient’s symptoms.
It can be incredibly frustrating for patients to have to use language they don’t understand when researching something as important as their own health. Therefore, it’s the role of medical marketers to bridge the gap between patients and healthcare professionals by creating approachable content on practice websites, landing pages, and blogs.
Creating Accessible Digital Content
Providing proper medical care is about more than just treating a patient’s condition — it’s also about helping them understand the ins and outs of their own health. The relationship between doctor and patient should ideally be a collaborative one — yet maintaining clear and effective communication requires translating hypertechnical medical jargon into more accessible language.
By giving patients the power to engage with their own health, doctors and medical marketers are helping them become more health literate. Studies indicate that this literacy can reduce patients’ shame and discomfort, while increasing their ability to take care of themselves more effectively.
The Mayo Clinic website is one example of a medical resource that is both thorough and accessible. For instance, their Sharing blog puts human faces and experiences to complicated medical conditions and treatments. The Immune Deficiency Foundation is another brand that makes a practice of breaking down complex medical concepts in accessible ways without watering down the content or making it too generic.
How This Benefits SEO
Medical marketers can also take advantage of this patient-driven approach when it comes to developing SEO strategies. By adapting industry-specific terminology for a more general audience, providers can reach larger and more diverse patient groups who are searching for health information online.
For instance, shifting specialized terms like “deep vein thrombosis” to “blood clots” or “distal clavicle osteolysis” to “weightlifter’s shoulder” allows marketers to give current and potential patients a contextual explanation, which ensures that everyone enters the conversation on the same page. From there, providers can pivot gradually toward more technical and specialized language and jargon. This leaves the door open for medical marketers to seek out a wider variety of clients, while also demonstrating their competence and experience within the field.
It can be challenging to shift medical content toward accessibility, and navigating HIPAA laws and regulations, release forms, and rounds of review can make personalizing online materials more labor intensive. However, by engaging with audiences in ways that center on the human experience, marketers are helping patients find and connect with the medical services they need.