Group Of Consultants Sitting At Table In Hospital MeetingAs healthcare communicators, we translate complex clinical information into understandable terms to help people make decisions about their care. At WriterGirl, we’ve refined a number of practices to write content that’s easy to comprehend, even for the most complex conditions and concepts. We simplify, define and try not to sound like medical textbooks ­– or fluff. At the same time, we want our content to be empathic, concise and compelling.

One challenge that comes up often is what to do about “multidisciplinary.” Just about every specialist we interview says that multidisciplinary care is important and sets their care apart. How can we make multidisciplinary meaningful to readers?

It’s tempting to repeat that seven-syllable word and be done with it. Just restating that multiple disciplines participate in care doesn’t tell the reader why it matters. Multidisciplinary care is a feature, and we need to describe the benefits for the patient.

Here are some things to consider when you’re called upon to talk about multidisciplinary teams to consumers:

  1. It’s proven that patients do better. If you could use some convincing, this 2014 study shows how the use of multidisciplinary teams in hospitals limits adverse events, improves outcomes and adds to patient and employee satisfaction.
  2. Providers get to pick from the whole toolkit. You’ve heard the saying: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” That can be true in healthcare if only one specialist is looking at your case. When you have clinicians from a variety of specialties and roles involved, their diverse experiences and perspectives bring more viewpoints to guide treatment decisions.
  3. It’s reassuring. Knowing that a whole team of different professionals is caring for you or your loved one can be very comforting and increase trust in the provider’s process. So much of medical care is a mystery to a patient but knowing that several skilled caregivers are focusing on what’s best for each situation is something we can all appreciate.

While you may not be able to incorporate all the benefits of multidisciplinary care into every reference in digital or print content, adding a sentence or phrase that make it meaningful to readers can make a big difference.

What other ideas do you have for communicating this concept? Are there other medical catchphrases that communicators need to help consumers better understand? We’d love your input!