The Dos and Don’ts of Tone in Healthcare Content

A hospital’s healthcare content site is a link to your community and beyond. Make sure it’s a bridge rather than a barrier by setting the right tone.

You’ve got a strong editorial calendar and the expert medical sources to position your hospital’s blog as the region’s go-to for health and wellness news. But that’s not enough. The tone you set matters just as much as the topics you present. Nail it with these do’s and don’ts.

 

Do be conversational.
Don’t condescend.

Health and wellness is a subject full of science-heavy terms. Break down study results and other info into accessible language without talking down to your readers. Find the main takeaways from the study and how it applies to patients’ lives. Although healthcare is a serious topic, it’s important to set a relaxed mood when the situation calls for it. For example, this study-based My Southern Health article on male bonding tackles the idea with a fun lede: “Guys! Science says a night out with your buddies after a long day is good for you.”

 

Do encourage.
Don’t shame.

Likely readers are coming to a healthcare system’s site because they’re looking for ways to improve their health, even if they haven’t let go of unhealthy habits or haven’t yet fully formed better ones. If the content’s tone shames them for not putting down the cigarettes or anything else for that matter, you’ll lose them. Tackle action items with empathy and aim to inspire. (Example: Does Exercise Help When Trying to Quit Smoking?) Sometimes the word “we” is useful when talking about struggles many of us grapple with on a daily basis, like digital eye strain.

 

Do inform.
Don’t scare.

Facts can be frightening. Writers don’t have to soften or sugarcoat, but present facts in context and always with actionable items or preventative measures. Here’s an example: “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Tennessee, and its prevalence is high across the mid-South. Thankfully, lifestyle changes can reduce your risk.” This heart health awareness month article follows stats with eight steps people can do right away. Those action items empower rather than petrify.

 

Do be inclusive.
Don’t assume.

Inclusivity regarding race, gender, sexual orientation and everything else is a must. Obviously certain health topics will require the specific address of gender, but others will be geared toward the general population. Use terms like “significant other” or “partner” instead of “spouse,” “husband” or “wife” whenever possible and the singular “they/their” where relevant, like in this article about Sweetest Day.

 

Do consider your region.
Don’t appeal to the masses.

The geographic location of your hospital should also influence your content’s tone. Express a sense of camaraderie about Mardi Gras, the long allergy season, or whatever might be unique to the environment or community, and use fitting language. Tone should be quite different in the Upper Midwest than it is in the Mid-South. Show prospective patients that you understand their day-to-day grind, and they’ll come to your clinics and hospitals for care and relief when the time comes.

 

Are you ready to take your healthcare content to the next level? Let’s talk.


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