How to create consumer-friendly content

How to create consumer-friendly content

One of the best ways to build trust with your patients, and position yourself as an expert in your field is to create consumer-friendly content.

 

Providing health information to your patients not only adds value for them, but it’s an opportunity for you to highlight your knowledge and explain how your services will help them.

 

But creating consumer-friendly content can be tricky. Which is why we have put together this handy guide.

Know your audience

Who is your target audience? Are they male or female or those who don’t identify with their birth-assigned gender? How old are they? Where do they live? What are their health challenges? What are their life circumstances? What are their concerns, fears and desires? What do they need help with? Once you know this, you’ll be able to write content they will find valuable.

Connect with your audience

To connect with your audience you must speak directly to them, just like you would when you’re consulting with them. Use words such as ‘you’ and ‘your’, rather than the ambiguous ‘patients’, ‘people’ and ‘consumers’.

Start with the basics

Most people in Australia don’t have a high health literacy rate, so keep your information basic. Never assume that your audience has any knowledge of your topic. Give a good overview of your topic and keep the information simple and easy to understand. A good structure to follow is:

Use plain English

It’s important to use simple words when writing health content as this ensures greater understanding among your audience. Some people reading your content may not have English as their first language. Others may have disabilities while some may already feel overwhelmed and reading complicated information is another burden they don’t need. While we’re on the topic of language, avoid using medical jargon. If you must use medical terms when writing your information, be sure to define them

Keep it short

A good guide for patient information is 600-800 words – no more. The average person is busy and doesn’t have time to read long slabs of text. Focus on what’s important for them to know, instead of what’s interesting to know. If your topic is complex, consider breaking it up into different parts and creating a series of fact sheets that are easily read.

Make sure your information is accurate and current

Source your information from reputable organisations such as peak bodies, government agencies and clinical guidelines. Try to include a list of references at the end of the article, or at the very least keep a list of references on file, in case someone wants further information or queries what you have written. If you are referring to a medical study, be sure to include references to the original study, not articles about the study.

This is the heading

Use headers, bullet points, images, and lots of white space to break up your text. Too much text can be overwhelming for readers. Besides, most people skim-read to find the information that is relevant to them, so providing headers means they can access it quickly.

Show how you can help

An important part of creating patient information is showing them what help is available. If they’re reading information from you, chances are they are looking to you for help. Be sure to outline how your services can help your patients but ensure that you only talk about treatments that are backed by scientific evidence, rather than anecdotal evidence. This is especially important if you are regulated by AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency).

Comply with AHPRA advertising guidelines

If you are regulated by AHPRA, all of your advertising (which includes digital, print or verbal) communications must comply with their advertising guidelines. Unfortunately, many health practitioners breach these guidelines (unintentionally) and put themselves at risk of a hefty fine. You can find these guidelines at:

Provide action points

Always, always leave the reader with information on what to do next – whether it’s to book an appointment with their doctor, give them some tips on managing their condition, or provide them with a link to find more information. Part of writing good consumer information is empowering your audience, rather than scaring them, and that means helping them understand that there is always something they can do to improve their health.