Healthcare has a complex relationship with content marketing, because it is an industry that can benefit greatly from content marketing efforts, but there are many rules and regulations to follow in order to effectively produce and distribute content. In addition, it can be difficult for care providers to find time to maintain their own blogs, and the availability of content writers specializing in the medical industry is limited. Still, it’s not impossible to take advantage of content marketing as a medical clinic, hospital, or independent practice. In fact, you should be dedicating resources to medical content marketing to:
- Connect to patients on a human level.
- Provide valuable healthcare information and wellness tips.
- Increase the reputation of your practice.
- Answer common healthcare questions.
Below you’ll get a look at the strategies to implement as you adopt a medical content marketing strategy to achieve these goals.
Maintaining HIPAA Compliance
Before writing a single blog post or designing an editorial calendar, you must know how to keep your content marketing HIPAA compliant. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is in place to safeguard sensitive patient information and data, and violations of this law can result in significant fines or loss of licensure. For this reason, it can be a scary consideration for medical practices new to content marketing. However, you can avoid HIPAA violations by following a few simple rules when producing or outsourcing your content:
- Never mention any patient or information pertaining to a patient’s specific case without express written permission from the patient. Though it may be tempting to share success stories and happy patient news, you should always consider patient privacy first and seek permission before posting.
- Do not post content that intends to diagnose or treat an illness. It is okay to discuss possible symptoms and treatment options, but you should ultimately guide potential patients to make an appointment to discuss their unique symptoms and medical care needs.
- Always back up content with thorough research and sourcing, as any medical content will have an innate sense of authority and should be written from the perspective of a medical expert.
Selecting Appropriate Subject Matter
Once you have established ground rules for maintaining high quality and HIPAA compliance in your content, you will be ready to narrow your marketing strategy with a specific theme and subject matter. Not all medical blogs will look the same, because they may have very different audiences seeking unique types of information. The medical industry is enormous, so you should take the following steps to make your content stand out among a sea of medical information while remaining relevant to your practice.
- Consider your specialty. Content posted by a pediatrician will not look like the content from a thoracic surgeon’s office, so you will want to think about your practice’s specialty as you create an editorial calendar. Family doctors, pediatricians, and obstetricians may write with new moms and busy families in mind, while cardiovascular specialists and orthopaedic surgeons might cater to an audience of senior citizens. Not only will your medical specialty provide the framework for the tone of your content, but it will offer direction for content topics. For example, obstetricians might provide plenty of advice for expecting moms to live by, while pediatricians will focus more on answers to common questions about responding to illnesses that typically affect children.
- Look to recent medical news. In any medical practice, it can be helpful to look to recent medical news to guide your content strategy. New research, studies, and innovations are published all the time in the medical industry, and offering your medical opinion or extra information about these breakthroughs can provide important context for patients. An oncologist, for example, may regularly post about the viability of new potential cancer treatments so that patients know whether to ask about these procedures during their next office visit.
- Seek to answer common patient questions. One of the top complaints of patients is that they do not have enough face time with their doctors to ask questions about their diagnoses, medications, or daily needs. Your content can fill some of the gaps when it comes to patient education, since you can use your blog as an open forum for patients to post questions and get the answers they need. Even without direct patient input, you can take note of commonly asked questions in your practice and use those as guidelines when scheduling new blog topics.
Finding the Right Medium
Blogging is a great place to start with medical content, but it is far from the only option. Many doctors have success hosting webinars and creating videos in which they discuss common patient concerns and questions. These multimedia forms of content can be particularly helpful in adding a human element to your medical practice and helping patients feel more connected. Guides and handbooks—which resemble eBooks in other industries—are another great resource to offer more information to patients in an easily digestible format. Along with diversifying content, you might also think about content distribution and promotion on social sites to ensure that your content marketing efforts do not go unseen.
Whether you’re a medical practice or a digital marketing agency serving clients in medicine, the team at Pennington Creative understands the many challenges that can come with specialized industries like healthcare, and we are able to work around these obstacles to create content strategies that work. Contact us today to see examples of our medical content and to discuss your content marketing goals.