» Connecting the Power of Writing with the Practice of Medicine

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3 simple ways to make your website mobile friendly

A whopping 62% of smartphone owners have used their phone to research a health condition in the past year. Wow. Is your website ready for that kind of mobile traffic?

Is your website mobile friendly?

When it comes to the mobile experience, simply adapting your current website to fit a smaller screen (known as responsive design) does not go far enough. Have you pulled up your site on your own smartphone to test the experience? The companies winning in mobile are creating custom websites that speak to the mobile users’ needs and mindsets.

Here are three simple tips you can use right now to make your site more mobile friendly:

  1. Make your content easy to navigate and see. Make sure mobile users can easily find information. They’re likely looking for a doctor, location, phone number, or condition or treatment information. Therefore, put your contact info, Find a Doc tool and health library as links on the top of the screen. Also make sure to use a font that is large enough to read on a small screen.
  1. Make your buttons and links easy to click on. Once you’ve determined your priority links, ensure a good user experience by making the buttons large enough for even the fattest fingers to click easily. Also make sure links within your content are easy to click on and aren’t too close together.
  1. Make every word count. Think about the size of a standard smartphone screen. How will you fit all your important information on that screen? Make every word count by:
  • Using short headlines (no more than 8 words).
  • Breaking up text with subheads and bulleted lists.
  • Using clear, simple everyday language.

This makes your content easier to scan and read on any screen.

How does your site measure up?

Use Google’s free mobile-friendly test to see how your site measures up. If your scores aren’t where you expected, apply the tips above. It will benefit your mobile visitors and may boost your Google search rankings.

Posted by Laura DiGiulio

Building a Content Supply Chain – part 2

A.A. MilneIf you need a ream of paper, chances are you check the office supply closet and grab one. Someone is in charge of ordering it. Someone is in charge of stocking it. Someone is in charge of checking inventory to make sure it’s always there when you need it. Someone is in charge of making sure you always have the best quality at the best cost. That easy-to-access paper turns into something magical once you start using it. Annual reports, sales spreadsheets, letter from the CEO, posters in the cafeteria and so on. You’re able to get your job done more efficiently and achieve your goals faster because paper is always there. You can count on it.

What if it was that easy when it came to content development? We all know the rate of consumption is outpacing the supply and consequently hospital marketers are struggling to keep up. So, what if you had a supply closet of experienced healthcare writers ready to write custom content for you? When you need it. How you need it. Always tailored to your brand and target audience. And someone, not you (because you already have too much to do) is in charge of making sure they are always there for you when you need them. And someone is in charge of managing their performance and their output (because you don’t have time for unnecessary revisions and complicated feedback loops). And someone is in charge of making sure there are different skill sets for different writing projects (because sometimes you need science writers for physician-facing content and sometimes you need bloggers for your content hub.)

What would you do with all of that newfound time? No longer are you wrangling freelancers’ availability and schedules; managing to process inconsistencies; training on tone/voice for every project; and spending hours in that dizzy feedback loop.

You just check the supply closet and they are there. And suddenly that to-do list becomes manageable and your content is there when and how your audience needs it.

We’re building content supply chains with healthcare organizations that are ready to look at content development from an enterprise-wide perspective. One content source with custom output, no matter the project. If you are interested in learning more, drop us a line at hello@writergirl.com.

If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, head here to read Why Build a Content Supply Chain.

 

Posted by Kirsten Lecky

Surprise! Disney Does it Best

24_49Being a mom to a two year old is one of the greatest and hardest jobs on earth. Everyday is a new adventure filled with laughter (and the proverbial temper tantrums). What I love most is how my daughter reminds me everyday of the simple joys in life: mac n’ cheese, playgrounds, dancing, fruit snacks and of course Disney movies.

We’re anxiously awaiting the release of “Finding Dory” in our house. Savannah’s face is a beaming ray of light every time we talk about the movie. I think in amazement, “How can one movie make someone so happy day after day after day?” The answer hit me like the fireworks at Epcot; Disney is the best storyteller on earth. Our souls crave stories. Our minds are wired to remember. Stories ignite our emotions and stick with us.

Like Disney, we are all storytellers at our core. We have the power to inspire and make the world a healthier place through stories. Here are three lessons we can learn from Walt Disney himself to bring us back to the simple magic of stories:

“That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” – Hope begins with you. No other industry is positioned like healthcare to better to spread hope. Be the ambassador for your organization. Be the storyteller. Communities rely on you.

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” – Be curious by nature. Ask questions. Seek answers. Get out from behind your computer. Talk to everyone. Walk the halls. You are sitting on a well of hope.

“Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.” – Take yourself back and remember what connects with a kid. Stay grounded by the basics of communication. Use clear language. Paint pictures. Influence a behavior change. Extend a caring hand.

Posted by Reba Thompson, Director of Business Development

Empathy and service: where does it start?

Patient empathy and satisfaction are two of healthcare’s hottest topics. And they’re connected. If a patient doesn’t feel like your healthcare organization is expressing compassion, then how can they feel well-served?

Your patients are your number-one priority. And patient satisfaction surveys took on new importance with the Affordable Care Act. They’re one measure of quality care and higher scores can mean higher reimbursements for providers.

But where does patient empathy and service begin? It starts with every aspect of your healthcare organization’s communication towards patients — from your doctors and staff to your website.

Below are tips on how healthcare marketers can increase patient care within your website and marketing content, thus leading to happier patients — and higher satisfaction scores:

  1. Use a caring and understanding voice in your content. Patients and their family members are often anxious when they visit a hospital — whether it is the birth of a baby or visiting someone in hospice care. It is important that they feel safe and cared for from their first connection with your organization. Often their first connection is your website, a brochure or a TV ad. Make sure that you speak to them in an empathetic tone that shows you are a trustworthy caregiver.
  1. Make your website easy to navigate. Life is stressful enough. Make it more simple for your visitors by making your website easy to use. Make sure your condition and treatment information, as well as your contact and find a doctor information, is easy to find.
  1. Use plain, simple language. Many illnesses and treatments are hard to understand. Make sure your content clearly explains each step of the diagnosis and treatment process in everyday language. Your visitors will be grateful.

Make sure your marketing materials set the stage for a great experience, it makes your staffs’ jobs easier — and your visitors more satisfied.

Posted by Rebecca Sims

When Healthcare Content Becomes Personal

colleen blog pictureI started working for WriterGirl four years ago. I knew the minute that I interviewed that I would love the job. I have a real passion for healthcare and consider myself digital “savvy” (as cliché as that sounds) – what a perfect fit! We talk content everyday and care deeply about providing only the best content for our clients.

Providing compelling content to patients is important – and the words on a page took on a whole new meaning for me two year later…

Not one, but two, of my very best friends were diagnosed with cancer. All of the sudden, the content and work that we do at WriterGirl became personal. I spent endless days and nights talking to my best friend about her cancer symptoms. I watched as she stared down at her iPhone and googled “pancreatic cancer”. She researched and read many physician profiles because it was important for her to find the ‘best of the best’ oncologist. I sat beside her during her chemo treatments where on the side table lie pamphlets and flyers that explained how chemo works. She was taking in every word – with both hope and fear.

You know the saying that “Content is King”. Well it is, but it’s also very personal when you are fighting for your life. Every word means something. You want to be educated enough to understand what your doctors are saying but not scared away by all the what-ifs. The personal journey I rode along with both my friends has a happy ending. They both fought the fight. They both won. They are living each day to the fullest. And, me… I have a new appreciation for my job and what we do at WriterGirl.

Posted by Colleen Massa

Why Build a Content Supply Chain

Maximize content fulfillment through a supply chain approach.

With almost 80% of Internet users going online for health related information, it’s no surprise that healthcare marketers are overwhelmed and looking for help. Put simply, it’s a matter of supply and demand… the demand is strong but the supply chain is fragmented. For example, content is often produced and managed in silos. Marketing, Human Resources, Nursing… each area of the organization has a message to share and a strategy and budget to accomplish it.

In today’s healthcare world, organizations are looking at ways to manage their resources – both financial and human. Continuing to approach content with a fragmented approach doesn’t allow for effective management of any resources, and in fact produces myriad risks, including:

  • Creating individual “cultures” that fracture tone and voice across the organization.
  • Building walls instead of breaking down barriers, making it difficult to collaborate and optimize best practices.
  • Introducing redundancies which create escalating – and avoidable – expenses.
  • Forming teams that are tactical instead of strategic.
  • Creating challenging management situations: Silos run deep, not wide, making cooperation virtually impossible.

Because silos are silent, they’re easy to ignore. You may not even realize how deep your silos run, and the exponential costs you’re incurring as a result.

We all know that the best content is custom content. And, operationalizing custom content is very challenging. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to operationalize the process, not the deliverables. Beginning with an audit across the organization to identify such as things as redundancies and best practices, then building an enterprise-wide solution for fulfillment… a high functioning supply chain for content, if you will.

Whether it’s an employee needing information about a benefits package or a potential patient researching the best care for a loved one, every hospital needs to be a resource for that person, at that moment. You need to meet them where they are and provide the information they need.

WriterGirl is uniquely poised to help you create that content supply chain. With more than 45 certified WriterGirl associates, we have the capacity to handle high-volume projects, even on tight timeframes. And we produce the highly custom content that Google loves.

If you are interested in talking to WriterGirl about building your enterprise solution, drop us a line at info@writergirl.com.

Posted by Christy Pretzinger, President & CEO

3 Real-life Lessons for Healthcare Marketers

karrie blogShow the person, not the credentials. 

It’s a family joke that I grew up at the doctor’s office. As a kid with chronic asthma, I spent several days a week there. There were check-ups and allergy shots. Tests and breathing treatments. And sometimes, trips to the ER. It sounds awful, so, am I crazy to admit I remember it almost . . . fondly?

My mom cringes when she remembers how serious it was, and worries about the holidays I spent in a hospital bed. But that’s not what I remember.

I remember a man. A gentle man who warmed his stethoscope in his hands before he put it on my back. A kind man who saved “Highlights” magazines for me because I loved to read them while I waited. A loyal man who didn’t need to ask about my medical history because he had been there for all of it.

He was much more than the certificates on his wall.

The physician biographies that live on find-a-doctor tools or practice landing pages often miss the mark by inundating readers with lists of credentials and positions held. Sure, those things are important, but let’s face it . . . if they’re practicing at your hospital, we know they’re qualified. Give consumers a feel for the person under the lab coat. Reveal their care philosophy. Share a few personal details. They’re whip-smart doctors, but they’re also human. Include a picture (it doesn’t even have to be a headshot) or a video.

I’ve sat with friends as they’ve surfed the web looking for doctors. They said things like “He looks like someone I can talk to” or “I liked reading about why she became a doctor.” I’m telling you, friends, they were looking for a person to care for them.

People care about outcomes more than awards.

Fast-forward to the young adult me. I’d just graduated from college with honors. I’d participated in all the right clubs, gotten all the right certifications and created a stunning resume. I showed up for a coveted job interview in my power suit. I felt ready. But I didn’t land the job and needed to understand why. So I asked a brave question.

Me: Is there any advice you would give me as I prepare for my next interview?

Wise executive: Can I give it to you straight?

Me: (gulp) Sure.

Wise executive: No one will care about your GPA or honor designations. Don’t miss the point. Convince them you’ve actually done something great with your skills besides graduate.

You can apply that lesson to your website. Many home pages are covered with rankings and designation icons that the average consumer doesn’t understand. Yet, they have to dig for a good patient story. Why not place one “front and center?” Readers want to believe in your team and they want to believe they can get better. Show them they can.

Build trust online first, so your care teams can work their magic.

I saw my mother’s confidence in her own care falter over the last several years. Her long-time doctor had retired and she wasn’t used to large group practices. She tried many medications (and several doctors) to help with her high blood pressure. She didn’t know what was wrong, but she knew she didn’t feel “right.”

The woman who’d worked years with a care team to ensure I was healthy and thriving, and that my father got the care he needed for his heart condition — who had believed in our providers — was ready to give up.

But she didn’t. Instead, she asked herself, “Who do I trust?” Then booked an appointment with my father’s cardiologist. She knew he’d listen. She knew he’d care. And she was right. He pinpointed a problem that might have otherwise gone undetected.

Trust may be an overused word, but don’t discount it’s power. Trust helps patients open up. Trust helps patients follow doctors’ orders. And trust will keep families coming back.

These are your real successes. This is what doctor-patient relationship is all about. Trust doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t created by a slick marketing piece. Expose the relationships. Tell these stories over every social media channel — because that’s where people share — a lot.

 

 

Posted by Karrie Hoover

The Psychology of Search

colori1Staying on top of the latest Google algorithm update can be a full-time job. Unfortunately, it’s a job that not many hospitals have filled, leaving them open to confusion surrounding SEO and how to produce website content that will result in high page rankings.

As the CEO and owner of a content strategy and development company, I’ve often said that “if it’s good for the user, it’s good for search” is an apt SEO strategy. So when Google released the Panda algorithm update in 2011, I was able to joke that Google finally caught up with my philosophy. And while I’m no SEO expert, Google really did begin to apply the philosophy I’d been expounding into their algorithm. (Making me feel really smart.)

With the Panda update, websites needed to focus on providing high-quality information. Of course, “quality” is subjective, and you need to be aware that “quality” in this case isn’t measured in content length, so you won’t improve your low-quality pages by making them longer. Content can be short or long; what matters is that it provides the information the user seeks. (If it’s good for the user, it’s good for search.) The quality of the content on a website matters more than the quantity.

The Penguin update, which came out in 2012, about a year after Panda, focused on spammy backlinks. Just like keyword stuffing, folks had clued in that they could “trick” the algorithm by getting significant numbers of (often irrelevant) backlinks. Penguin addressed that situation.

So what’s a hospital marketer to do?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if it’s good for the user, it’s good for search. What are your users looking for? What do you WANT them to be looking for when they land on a particular page of your site?

This specific situation is one that we at WriterGirl address on a daily basis. It’s a subtle point, and it’s where the psychology of search comes into play. In order to fully explain this, let me walk you through a real-life scenario we just went through. (For clarity, I have to explain a bit about how we work. It’s not meant to be a sales pitch, but rather an explanation of how the subtleties of search come into play when writing highly custom healthcare content. Bear with me…)

WriterGirl trains each of our writers and project managers (PMs), and we certify them annually through our WriterGirl Academy. Part of this training involves one-on-one mentorship, which occurs on an as-needed basis with each writer and PM. The other day, an extremely experienced writer (more than ten years’ experience in healthcare writing, marketing and social media management) was working on some content. For a page on angina, she was using “chest pain” in the headline rather than “angina.” The mentor told her to think about what the user would be searching for in order to land on this page; in this case, is was “angina” rather than the more generic “chest pain.” (The writer was mentored to include “chest pain” in the content, but in order to help with SEO, to use the more specific term in the headline.)

The writer then began working on content for high blood pressure. Taking her cue from her mentoring session, she used “hypertension” – the more specific term – in her headline. Great job, right? The writer is applying the lesson learned, demonstrating that she was listening and understanding the direction.

Not so fast.

This is where the psychology comes in. (And where manufactured SEO programs fall short, by the way.)

In this case, the user would most likely search for “high blood pressure” rather than “hypertension.” The “whys” of this are subtle, and they involve everything from language to logic to advertising. Simply put, the population at large is exposed to the phrase “high blood pressure” far more than they are exposed to the word “hypertension.” So in this case, it behooved the hospital to use “high blood pressure” in the headline for better SEO.

How do we know this?

Well, that’s a tough question to answer, again because it’s so subtle. It involves all of our senses – paying attention both visually and orally to language on television and in print, not to mention digital outlets. It requires an understanding of the target audience – and not just their reading level. (“Angina” is a medical term, but one that a user searching for treatment would use, rather than the more generic “chest pain” phrase, which could imply a search for something like “signs of a heart attack” rather than “angina.”)

This situation is just one example of how personal SEO has become. Google is now working on AI (artificial intelligence), with the goal that results fit so clearly into the flow of what you’re looking for that you don’t even notice it’s happened. Your users are looking for ever-more complex answers, and by remembering to put yourselves in the seat of the user, you’ll create better content. And that better content will result in better SEO.

Posted by Christy Pretzinger, President & CEO

I ain’t afraid of no projects!

5 steps to make your content overhaul less scary

When the Ghostbusters catch ghosts, the iconic “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” theme plays in the background. Healthcare marketers need this “no fear” mentality when it comes to a large website content overhaul project.

Whether you are consolidating 5,000 webpages down to 500, or ten location websites to one health system site, a content overhaul can seem, well, scary.

But it doesn’t have to be. Below are five ways you can take your content overhaul head on with your ghost trap in hand.

  1. Visualize your new site map. Start with your homepage and go from there. How many service lines will you highlight? Will you provide information on health conditions? Treatments and services available at your organization? A contact page? Maps and directions? Research other healthcare organizations and see how they lay out their website to get some ideas.
  1. Complete an audit of your current content. Create a spreadsheet and list every page from your new site map. Go through your current website(s) and determine what pages pertain to that topic. This up front research will help you curate your best content when it comes time to write.
  1. Determine if SME interviews are necessary. Now that you’ve organized your current content, do you have enough information to write content for all pages on your site map? Or will you need more information from a subject matter expert (SME) to build it out? Whether or not you interview SMEs, be sure they review all content on your site for accuracy before it goes live. SMEs can also help you determine which service lines, conditions and treatments you should highlight.
  1. Develop a project timeline. To reach your project goals, you need to set some milestones. Determine your ideal “go live” date for your new website. If your site map has 500 pages, how many should your team create each week? How many can you and your SMEs handle reviewing per week? Do a little math and break it up into bite-size chunks. Completing 25 pages of content per week for 20 weeks sounds less overwhelming.
  1. Complete content. With your plan in place, it’s time to get writing. But even with the best laid plans, you may run into some bumps along the way. Be flexible. Just keep moving forward with what you can accomplish. And before you know it, your content overhaul will be complete.

Learn how WriterGirl can help with your website’s content overhaul by contacting us at info@writergirl.com.

 

Posted by Laura DiGiulio

5 Reasons Caring for Caregivers Pays Off in Healthcare

Senior and young holding hands

When you find out you’re expecting a baby, you know how to prepare. Visit any healthcare organization’s website and you’ll see it’s easy to find the guidance you need for pregnancy. Help deciding on a doctor, signing up for childbirth classes, and even advice on parenting is just a click away.

But what do you do at the first sign that your parents’ health is declining? Where do you go when you realize mom, dad or another loved one can’t be completely independent anymore? It’s much less likely you’ll know what to do or where to turn.

Caregiving — providing unpaid assistance and support to an adult loved one — is a responsibility shouldered by almost 40 million Americans within the last year. And you can bet most of them are interacting with the healthcare system.

Attention and care for family caregivers pays dividends — in better health, lower costs and reduced stress. Here are five reasons why every hospital needs to pay attention to this enormous — and enormously important — group.

  1. Caregivers influence healthcare choices. Caregiving might start with a daughter researching the best specialist for her dad online. Can she find the information she’s looking for? Then she might take off work to take him to the doctor’s appointment. Does she feel welcome in the waiting room? Is her time respected?
  1. Caregivers need help. Taking care of an adult family member is often stressful and always time-consuming. Caregivers need emotional support, help finding services for loved ones, figuring out insurance and finances, and navigating the system. How can your healthcare organization dip into its deep well of knowledge and skill to help relieve the burden of caregiving?
  1. Caregivers are part of the care team. It’s a patient-centered world now. Providers understand that respecting patients’ goals and values and seeing them as partners in decision-making improves the outcome. Of course, the patient and family go hand in hand. Are caregivers considered and valued as members of the care team in your communications?
  1. Caregivers reduce the rate of return. Want to reduce readmissions (and who doesn’t)? Make sure you involve a patient’s family members along the way. A caregiver can be your best bet in making sure prescriptions are filled and appointments are kept after discharge. It’s so important that several states are considering legislation to require hospitals to keep caregivers in the loop.
  1. Caregivers impact satisfaction scores. Who’s filling out the patient experience surveys? According to Dan Ansel, CEO of Active Daily Living, “It’s estimated that more than 40 percent of all Medicare patient satisfaction surveys are completed by a family caregiver rather than the patient — and that they tend to be less favorable in their responses regarding the interaction with the hospital.” Is the work you do to raise consumer perceptions extending to caregivers as well. ?

 

 

Posted by Karla Webb