I won’t buy mascara or a vacuum cleaner without first reading reviews.

And I’d do the same before I checked into any hospital.

Savvy healthcare marketers recognize and participate in the review trend. That includes optimizing your organization’s report cards, patient satisfaction ratings and performance on third-party reviewing systems. But don’t neglect another “review” tool at your disposal and more within your control: the patient story.

We helped IU Health tell patient stories, with a mix of print and video.

Why focus on the patient? 

Patient stories on your website or in your organization’s publications are free advertising, but can be more powerful than advertising. Consumers tend to be skeptical about advertising, figuring you can pay to say whatever you want without always factoring in the truth. If they see a person or a patient – identified by full name, city and a photograph – offering details about superb, compassionate care from your hospital or clinic, they will probably regard it less skeptically.

Crafting the message

What makes an authentic patient story? It has to do with being able to pull out the important details of the patient’s experience. You’ve got to capture the voice of the patient. Those details – and the authentic voice of the patient – help others to relate: to the disease, the diagnosis, the treatment, the recovery, the emotions, the experience, and finally, the hope.

Elements of a strong patient story include:

  • A unique situation or individual.
  • Quotes that are modified and smoothed, not to change the meaning, but to show the patient in a favorable light. These should never read (or sound) as if they’re rehearsed or manufactured.
  • A compelling story line that isn’t overly dramatic.
  • A journalistic style of writing.
  • Interspersed narrative and quotes.

Print or video?

Some people prefer reading stories, but others would rather watch a video. Patients may be uncomfortable appearing in a video, but will give an interview for a print story. Videos require a script and rehearsal, necessitate more staff time and are more expensive to produce; however, video is playing an increasingly strong role in SEO. Remember, if you choose to offer video, be sure you have the technology to back it up. Website visitors will abandon watching a video if it takes too long to download or endlessly buffers.

Whether you pick print or video, here’s the good news: both can be shared on social media. And don’t forgot to ask the patients you interviewed to share it with their friends on social media, too.

Do you need help telling your patient stories? WriterGirl is offering a new Patient Story Package. Contact us for more details.