Say My (Consumer-Friendly) Name, Say My (Consumer-Friendly) Name …

To reach more patients, sometimes you have to make like Beyoncé and change your (page) name.

Developing clinical program and service names is not for the faint of heart: The name needs to reflect your clinicians’ expertise, honor financial donors and align with your organization’s mission. But often, a name that checks those boxes is meaningless to consumers. They may scroll right by your program because it doesn’t seem relevant to them.

Take steps to make it easier for consumers to understand what your clinical program offers. They’ll be more likely to remember your name and turn to your care program for their health needs.

Say What Now?

When you are deeply involved in the daily operations of a large health system, it’s natural to assume everyone views your organization through the same lens as you. But this perspective can make you tone-deaf to the needs of potential patients and prevent your content from connecting with them.

It’s like the first time you went to Starbucks. “Grande, extra hot, four-shot, Starbucks® Blonde Americano with cold foam and skinny mocha sauce” sounds overwhelming and confusing. (“I just want coffee! Am I in the right place?”)

In the same way, “Advanced Pulmonology Clinic and Center of Excellence” sounds overwhelming and confusing. (“I’m having trouble sleeping. Am I in the right place?”)

Why Minding Your Language Matters

So let’s say you are, for example, trying to market your hospital’s sleep medicine services that are part of a pulmonology institute. The sleep-deprived audience you’re trying to reach may not know you exist.

Many people with sleep issues don’t realize they have a medical problem that needs to be evaluated by a doctor. And even if your audience comes across your pulmonology institute while searching for a “sleep medicine doctor,” they may not make the connection.

They’ll wonder, “Why would I want to see a lung doctor for a sleep issue?” and pass over your site faster than you can say “good night.”

Your Brand Is Irreplaceable, But …

Your organization has spent years building a unique brand identity, complete with sophisticated clinical program names. But many of these names require consumers to do mental heavy lifting.

According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, one in three adults has low health literacy, which is why experts still recommend printed materials be written at or below a sixth-grade reading level. If your program names include jargon, you’ll miss opportunities to connect with people who need your services.

For example:

  • Women with cervical cancer may not recognize that your gynecologic oncology program is precisely what they need. They are laser-focused on learning more about their diagnosis and may only click on pages that say “cervical cancer.”
  • Athletes with routine injuries might run the other way if their search for “IT band syndrome treatment” brings them to an orthopedic surgery program page. They might not know that your experts successfully treat stubborn symptoms without surgery.
  • Parents of children with eczema may have no idea what medical dermatology is. They’re searching for “pediatric dermatologists” and “eczema treatment” by tens of thousands every month. Searches for “medical dermatology” pale in comparison.

What Does This Have to Do With Beyoncé?

Beyoncé, like your brand, has also spent years cultivating a unique identity. But, at different stages of her career, she’s adopted alter egos to highlight aspects of her life and music.

Offstage, Beyoncé is demure. But in 2009 she went by Sasha Fierce to show her wild side. In 2013, she went by Mrs. Carter to celebrate her role as a wife and mother. And these name changes have helped her connect with consumers. She has won 20 Grammys, making her the second-most awarded woman in the award’s history.

Change Your Approach, Run the World

Like Beyoncé, your (page) name should connect with your audience and tell them who you are.

Lead with what you offer: Honor both your brand identity and clinical capabilities right off the bat by connecting the dots: How does your program or service help patients? Answer this question using terms that reflect the consumer’s point of view. Patient-focused language will help them feel cared for before they even make an appointment.

For example, if your pulmonologists help people get better sleep, make sure key terms such as “sleep problems” and “sleep medicine” play a prominent role in page titles and above-the-fold content.

Hire outside help: You may be too busy or too entwined in daily operations to see your organization from a consumer’s perspective. It’s similar to the Starbucks effect, where once you become a regular, their lingo just rolls off your tongue. I mean, who doesn’t crave a venti pumpkin spice latte with almond milk and extra foam every now and then?

Hiring an agency that specializes in consumer-friendly health content (we’re one of them!) can help you create winning content. We work with you to identify and break down complex concepts, so consumers can understand precisely how your services will benefit them.

About Laura Bloom

Laura Bloom, MBA

A 20-plus-year veteran of the healthcare industry, Laura’s previous work includes technical writing and project management roles at UnitedHealth Group, WebMD and a federally funded quality improvement organization. Laura has a passion for helping consumers make informed decisions about their care, which is why she became a content writer.... More >