Meeting Patients Where They Are: How to Create Approachable Health Content
BY Cassie Drumm
Feb 29, 2024

Have you ever googled a weird health symptom to see if you should go to the doctor? Of course you have. We all have. And, like it or not, Dr. Google is a real resource that people use in their daily lives. 

Much to the healthcare industry’s chagrin, it’s extremely common for people to search online for insight into their health problems before visiting a medical professional. Healthcare providers can roll their eyes at this reality, or we can agree that an informed consumer is a better “customer,” and empower patients to take control of their own health with approachable, easy-to-understand content rather than 

the complex jargon of scholarly, peer-reviewed articles in medical journals. 

Here’s how: 

Step 1: Understand your audience

If you’re in marketing, you know how important it is to tailor your content to the right audience. Before I create any content for my clients, I make sure we’re aligned on who we’re trying to reach. It makes a big difference, especially when it comes to healthcare messaging. 

It’s important to not only tailor your content topics to your audience but also how you’re reaching them. If you’re trying to reach an aging population, it probably doesn’t make sense for you to create content for TikTok. An email campaign might be a better avenue. Similarly, be mindful of your community’s literacy levels, access to technology and potential barriers to health. All of these factors play a role in how you communicate. 

Step 2: Choose the right tone

Maintaining a professional tone is essential, but it doesn’t mean sacrificing approachability. Strike a balance by adopting a conversational, friendly style. Avoid using overly formal language that may alienate readers. Instead, aim for a tone that mirrors a helpful conversation with a trusted friend or advisor. 

Remember: Your content isn’t going into a medical journal. You can use common language and even slang, as long as it fits into your brand voice and speaks to your audience’s preferences. 

Step 3: Tell a story

Humans are naturally drawn to stories—and they’re more likely to remember them. Incorporating a narrative element into healthcare content can make it more relatable and engaging. Share real-life experiences of patients undergoing similar treatments or facing specific health challenges. Personal anecdotes can humanize health topics, making them more approachable and fostering a sense of connection with the audience.

Step 4: Simplify complex topics

Healthcare topics are often complex and difficult or overwhelming to understand, which is why breaking them down is key to reaching your audience effectively. This sometimes means using plain language, but not at the expense of accuracy. In some cases, it’s more important to define complex medical terms instead of just using a simpler term. 

Don’t be afraid to ask medical professionals for assistance with this. Most of us healthcare marketers did not go to med school, so having a doctor review content before it’s published can be helpful to ensure accuracy and clarity. Ultimately, content that isn’t oversimplified enhances patients’ ability to articulate symptoms, ask relevant questions and actively participate in their healthcare.

Step 5: Empower readers through education

Ultimately, approachable health content should educate individuals and empower them to call their doctor. Providing actionable advice, practical tips and resources that enable readers to make informed decisions about their health helps everyone, not just the patient but also the physicians and healthcare system. 

Approachability in health content is not just a marketing strategy—it’s a commitment to promoting health literacy and fostering a healthier, more informed society.