Illustration of different services lines combined together

Choice is a good thing. But if you’ve stood in the supermarket toothpaste aisle, you know choice can also feel overwhelming. What’s the difference between whitening and brightening? Should you get enamel protection or enamel repair (and what is enamel, anyway)? What about fluoride versus fluoride-free?

When faced with a wall of similar yet not-quite-the-same toothpaste choices, you might feel you need to do extensive research. And maybe it can feel a little intimidating and discouraging, too. Is there any chance your patients might feel that way when reading your service line content?

Between you, your local competitors and new healthcare disruptors, patients have many choices. Simply delivering good care is not enough to bring in new patients or even keep your existing ones. Healthcare disruptors (think Amazon or CVS) focus on consumer journeys. With this consumer-centric approach, they aim to make each step of the patient experience easy, intuitive and personalized.

The choice of where to get care often starts with your website content. Your website is the digital front door to your brand. Forbes notes 88% of users won’t return to a site after a bad experience, and 61% say if they don’t find what they’re looking for within about five seconds, they’ll go to another site.

So how can your service lines compete? In a wall full of toothpaste options, you make your organization the clear choice.

“Deliver a content experience that helps patients understand your differentiators and why they should choose you,” says WriterGirl Content Strategist Stella Hart. “How will you make their lives easier or better? Compared to newcomers and industry disruptors, if your healthcare organization has existing brand equity, reputation, loyalty, trust, history and expertise in your market, that can influence consumers’ decisions. Add in a great consumer experience, and that’s a strong combination that will set you apart.”

Here are some ways you can position your service line content to differentiate your care from your competitors.

Pinpoint what makes your service line special

A strong strategy starts with your identity. What makes your service line unique? Perhaps you’re the academic medical center that pioneers new heart and vascular treatments for patients. Or maybe you’re a community hospital that offers a personalized, patient-centered primary care approach that families in your neighborhood appreciate.

Whoever you are, you can be confident of one thing: You are not all things to all patients. And you don’t have to be. Find out what you do well and what makes you special. Then create content about your service line to highlight it.

Look at service line and marketing data

Dig into the data to identify the sweet spot between what you do well and what patients want to find. Stella suggests collaborating with service line leaders and reviewing marketing analytics to answer the following questions:

  • What conditions do you treat in high volumes?
  • What services do you provide in high volumes?
  • What services do you offer that are more unique or specialized?
  • What questions do patients ask staff and providers before, during or after a visit?
  • What are users searching for in search engines like Google or on your website?
  • What service line topics are your audiences engaging with on social media?
  • What blog topics attract the most views?

These questions will help you prioritize content topics and find gaps in your current content strategy. For example, if people in your area are searching for plantar fasciitis and you have a program but not much information on your website, add it! If a blog about choosing a pediatrician goes viral, consider how you can promote or repurpose it for the service line webpage, social media, email and other patient communications.

Create a delightful experience for visitors

Have you ever gone to a website where everything felt seamless and intuitive? “Good content strategy serves up the experiences that feel useful and, dare I say, delightful,” says Stella. In a complex industry such as healthcare, an easy experience can differentiate you from your competitors. Create ease by providing clear, specific and straightforward content at the right time and place.

Stella suggests promoting services in a way that shows patients you have the answers to their questions. And they could have many questions, such as:

  • Are you located near me (or close enough that I’m willing to travel for better or more specialized care)?
  • Do you treat my condition or symptoms?
  • What services do you offer, and how can I access them?
  • How will you make my life easier or better?
  • Why should I choose your organization over your competitor?
  • What will it be like to get care at your organization?
  • Do you have online scheduling, virtual visits or other digital experiences?
  • What will happen before, during and after my visit or procedure?

Consider the example of Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center, whose website communicates its differentiators and answers many potential patient questions. It helps patients confronted with a cancer diagnosis to feel reassured and taken care of. And it helps them prepare before they visit a provider.

Help patients quickly find the information they need. At WriterGirl, we use plain language to support health literacy. We also recommend the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). And of course, we make your content SEO-friendly so patients can find the information they’re looking for — and find you.

“Often, internal subject matter experts create service line content, so it matches your internal structure instead of what consumers look for,” says Stella. Use your internal teams as the subject matter experts. And then, position your service line content using patient-friendly terms that match what people are searching for (e.g., ear, nose and throat vs. otolaryngology).

Create service line content for the patient journey

Information overload is common in healthcare. There is so much to know! And patients don’t need all the information at any one point in their journey. Patient needs change from six weeks pregnant to six weeks after giving birth.

Content strategy means aligning your service line marketing goals with patient needs. “Help them before they even know they need something,” says Stella. “Give them information so they feel empowered in their healthcare decisions and trust your brand for helpful guidance.”

Try mapping content about your services along a chronological patient journey. You could consider these general phases:

  • Phase one: Feeling well. Interested in prevention and general education.
  • Phase two: Feeling symptoms or has a triggering event. Interested in researching the condition, learning care options or taking a class or webinar.
  • Phase three: Getting treatment. Interested in taking steps to access care and getting treatment.
  • Phase four: Getting follow-up and ongoing care. Interested in managing a condition or maintaining their health.

First, understand how your service line operates and interacts with patients at each phase. Then consider what questions patients might have at each stage. From there, you can structure and develop your content to help users navigate these phases and find care, answering questions along the way.

For example, parents in phase 2 might sign up for a birth center tour. But if there is no follow-up, they may choose to deliver their baby somewhere else. Maternity service line follow-up, supported by content marketing, can help bridge the gap and move them through their patient journey.

Partner with WriterGirl to differentiate your service line content

Are you ready to set your service line content apart and define your strategy? Expert content strategists and writers at WriterGirl can help.

“We focus on healthcare content,” notes Stella. “We know the industry, digital strategies, plain language and best practices to help you position your service line content and differentiate your brand.”

Contact us to create custom service line content that sets you apart.