The Ultimate Guide to AI for Healthcare Marketers + Do’s and Don’ts Cheatsheet What You Need to Know
The Ultimate Guide to AI for Healthcare Marketers + Do’s and Don’ts Cheatsheet What You Need to Know

Get ready to write about GERD. (And diabetes, bunions and concussions.) Patient education materials are the new must-have for a successful digital marketing strategy. You need online content describing conditions, tests and treatments for the information-hungry consumer.

Yes, this type of health information already exists on sites such as WebMD. But why lose users to those other health sites? When users leave your site, research shows they often don’t come back. And they may never even come in the first place if your site doesn’t include patient education materials.

Patient Education Materials: Rote Content That Helps Your Hospital Stand Out

As a marketing exec with a finite budget for promoting your brand, you may question the value of creating content that’s redundant with what’s already available online. The symptoms of GERD and bunions are the same no matter where the content lives.

But here’s where a lot of organizations miss their opportunity to shine: It’s not about you (or your budget). It’s about creating content that meets people where they are so they can find out just how much your hospital can help them with their health goals.

Create Patient Education Materials Now, and Appointments Will Follow

A person’s care journey starts long before they arrive in the exam room. Users want to read health information before receiving care. Your brand can make a lasting impression by giving them what they’re looking for right from the start.

Users may be:

  • Anxious and need to know *right now* what the problem might be
  • Self-motivated and want to try treating the problem themselves to avoid the hassle of going to the doctor
  • Downplaying their symptoms, thinking they aren’t serious enough to warrant a visit to (or the cost of) a specialist
  • Procrastinating and seeking justification for not making a doctor’s appointment, as in “this problem may go away on its own”

How Patient Education Materials Lead to Appointments

Users have burning questions > You create patient education materials > These materials address users’ burning questions > Users now trust you because you’ve provided valuable information >This trust makes them more likely to make an appointment with you.

Anxious users will be less worried since they know what to expect. The symptom downplayers will realize that help from a specialist is precisely what they need.

The self-motivated user now knows who to call when home remedies aren’t successful. And the procrastinator will call when they can no longer ignore their symptoms (though hopefully sooner).

Patient Education Materials: A Shot in the Arm for SEO

Patient education materials also give your site a boost when it comes to SEO by making people aware of your brand at just the right time. This information also increases engagement with your content, which is a boon to current and future search performance.

Having patient education materials helps you achieve more of your digital marketing goals by: improving performance in search, increasing users’ time on your site and lengthening “dwell time.” Dwell time is the length of time a user spends on a webpage after they’ve clicked a link on a SERP (search engine results) page, but before clicking back to the SERP results

Improves performance in organic search

Patient education materials fortify your content with condition names, symptom lists and treatment options. Every month, thousands of people are using these terms to find health information online. Including these keywords gives your pages more visibility — even when users are not familiar with your brand.

For example, let’s look at a runner who’s experiencing ankle pain:

  1. She searches: She turns to Google for information. She, like many runners, downplays her symptoms. Initially, she’s not interested in who can treat her, so she excludes facility and physician names from her queries.
  2. She finds your site: You have patient education materials about ankle pain causes and treatments, so your pages perform well in the results. She sees your site looks promising.
  3. She clicks: She enters your site, hoping to find out what all injured runners want to know, “Can I keep running?”
  4. She appreciates the info: Your content anticipated her needs and may lead to interactions that might not have occurred otherwise. It was your patient education materials, not your brand, that brought her to your site.
  5. She calls: When she’s ready for treatment, your organization will be top of mind.

Increases users’ time on your site

Users who have a positive experience with your patient education materials are likely to stick around and explore. As they spend more time on your site, they’ll learn how your organization can help them.

How’s our runner with ankle pain?

  • She learned that she really does need care, and your orthopedists specialize in sports injuries.
  • She also sees that your physical therapists offer expanded hours, allowing her to fit sessions into her busy schedule.
  • Through these extra clicks, she’s transitioned from an information consumer to a patient.

But that’s not all. Google keeps track of how long the average user spends on your site with a metric called average session duration. Longer session durations help you maintain a higher page rank, paving the way for future users to easily find your content.

Lengthens “dwell time”

Patient education materials support another important Google metric, “dwell time.” This metric represents how long users spend on your site before returning to the list of search results.

How does dwell time differ from average session duration? It allows apples-to-apples comparisons among all the sites that meet a certain set of search criteria.

Let’s say you and your competitor appear in search engine results. You have patient education material; your competitor does not. So users hit the back button shortly after landing on their site, but they’ll dwell longer on yours.

Longer dwell time signals to Google that you’re providing valuable content. The jury is still out on whether dwell time is an official part of Google’s algorithm. But experts agree that digital marketing efforts should strive for longer dwell times.

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