I was thinking recently about a Bob Dylan line: “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

There’s a challenge in those words that resonates with me. If I look at my day, my week, my year – how much time do I spend “being born,” seeking out moments that are life-giving or transformative? A few minutes here and there, if I’m honest. Recognizing that is important. Changing it is more important. (And much harder!)

I also started to think about what this quote means in the world of content. How many organizations are stuck in a “this is how we’ve always done things” workflow? Many of them. And the bigger the organization, the more likely they are to be stuck.

Throwing Away the Manual: New Ideas for Creating Content

So how do you find new life when it comes to content strategy and development for your hospital? Here are a few ideas to get the wheels turning:

  • Find the intersection between where you’ve been and where you’re going: There’s a gap between where your organization has been and where you hope to be in 5 or 10 years. (Or at least there should be!) How do you bridge that gap? For example, when launching a new program or initiative, look for ways to frame the announcement in the context of your organization’s bigger story. Being born means crafting messaging that is true to your identity while also casting a vision for what you will become.
  • Connect with your community: Every community is unique. I grew up in a city that called water fountains “bubblers” and held cardboard boat races every summer. What’s unique about your city or region, and how can you tap into that to connect with your audience? For example, consider how people talk in your region. What uniquely local words or phrases could you include in your messaging? As you emphasize your roots (even in subtle ways), you can foster a deeper connection with your community. Being born means humanizing your content to reach your audience where they are.
  • View competitors as inspiration: The content created by other players in your market can be a great jumping-off point for new ideas. But don’t fall into the trap of doing something because everyone else is doing it. Being born means leading by creating compelling content rather than following just to keep up.
  • Prioritize meaning over quantity and (gasp!) quality: Hear me out. The quality and quantity of your content matters – but neither is as important as creating meaningful interactions with people. Being born means creating content that views your audience primarily as humans rather than users, target demographics or personas.

Let’s put the rubber to the road. As an example, March is National Kidney Month. You may be planning the same press release or community event that you do every year. You may not be planning anything at all.

Think about what it would look like to create a marketing campaign for National Kidney Month that:

  • Is true to your identity and vision
  • Resonates with your local community
  • Is inspired and inspiring
  • Cultivates meaningful interaction

5 More Ways to Make Your Healthcare Content Online Different from Others

Major medical centers often use the same language and messages to describe themselves:

  • “We care about you.“ and/or
  • “We’re the best.”

Daphne Swancutt, a noted healthcare marketer, calls this the “sea of sameness”. Same messages, different institution.

As writers who specialize in healthcare, we work with hospitals, private physicians and large practices to think about how to differentiate themselves in the cluttered, unorganized space of consumer healthcare marketing. In my humble opinion, healthcare marketers can use these 5 techniques to make their online content fresh and avoid the sea of sameness.

  1. Don’t be afraid of personality: So many times, clients balk from showing the personality of their physicians, or clinics or support staff. I have one client, a nuclear medicine specialist, who has an office filled with stuffed ducks. It’s a joke with his staff about quacking instead of complaining, and it caught on with his patients. Now, every time a patient needs a gift for this doctor, they buy him a stuffed duck. I would LOVE to take a picture of this doctor’s office and write a small story about the ducks and put it on his bio page. But it doesn’t fit in with the general culture of the website. This is a classic opportunity lost.
  2. Use real world stories: A basic part of the human condition is our love of stories. Every single culture has narrative. So use stories to tell the story about what patients will experience when visiting your healthcare institution. Patient testimonials are often boring and flat. Don’t have them fill out a paragraph about how much they love Dr. So and So. Instead, identify three conditions that are the most searched pages on your website. Find patients with successful outcomes and write stories about their experience with your staff. Find a creative way to engage the user with a memorable takeaway.
  3. Create “What to expect” guides: I love these pages because they really do allow you to highlight what makes your healthcare institution different. What to expect when you check in, what to expect when you have a procedure, what to expect at a treatment. I wrote a radiation oncology site about a year ago and I really spent time with the staff: walking through all the different rooms, getting a feel for the process. The entire site was written with that “tour guide” feel in mind so that a potential patient would have a sense of what would happen to them: from their first appointment, to the day they graduate from radiation treatment. Photo essays are helpful for this as well, as long as the captions aren’t too long and contain information relevant to the photo.
  4. Don’t ignore the family and friends: Where can I park my car and how much it will cost? Where can I get a cup of coffee? Is there an ATM? For patients, the anxiety is in the visit and the treatment. For the accompanying loved one, the anxiety is in the details. So don’t neglect detailed, logistical information and do not be afraid to give too much. So parking is $10 an hour. I doubt a patient won’t come to the hospital because of the parking fee. But at least they will know to have the cash on them and won’t scramble at the end of the visit to run to the ATM.
  5. Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth: (Bonus points to the reader who can tell me where this is from.) At the end of the day, no one is the best at everything and everyone really cares about their patients. Thanks for the information. So if you’re not the best, how do you differentiate yourself? How about telling the truth?

What does that truth look like? For example:

  • We’re a community hospital that offers excellent, personalized care in a smaller setting.
  • We’re in the inner city, so we see a wide variety of cases with complicating factors and have experience treating patients with those challenges.
  • Our rooms are really pretty and we have wireless internet.
  • We offer fellowship –trained physicians in a non-academic setting so they are free to really apply themselves to patient care and don’t have to worry about research.
  • We really are the best and this is why:
    • We pioneered this treatment
    • We’re one of the few that are willing to try this
    • We use teams to solve problems
    • Our technology is superior because we have the most experienced minds to interpret it.

Ready to Get Busy Being Born?

One thing I’ve learned along the way is that sometimes you can’t even see what you need to do to “be born.” You may need an outside perspective to identify what needs to change. Our content audits can provide just that for your organization.

Or maybe you know what needs to change, but you need a team around you to pull it off. Contact us to see how we can help you bring your content vision to life.

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