4 high-impact communication tactics for reaching patients

These simple techniques will lay the foundation for clear messaging about long-term wellness.


Not sure where to start in your efforts to drive home health care content that will benefit your patients?

Consider the following approaches:

1. Get hashtag happy.

To communicate with patients, go where they live: social media. Amplify your efforts with catchy, content-driven hashtags.

Hashtags draw an array of users and can crystallize a campaign. For example, to encourage women to get mammograms, a clinic in Virginia used the hashtag “#yesmamm.”

Arkansas Children’s Hospital used #100deadliestdays to highlight the warm-weather period when child and teen death rates increase.

In addition, users often adopt hashtags as their own, expanding their reach.

2. Make a list.

List-style blog content gives readers a sense of how much time they’re about to invest, breaks down each point into a digestible unit, and gives readers a big-picture look at a topic without overwhelming them. This makes it a perfect format for health care content.

This list from Broadgate General Practice outlines mild symptoms that could indicate something more severe. It can help patients determine whether they’ll bounce back quickly or should see a doctor, but you can turn any topic into fodder for a list post for your patients.

3. Give visual cues.

Using visual tools or logos can convey important information and start conversations with your patients in a way that written content might not.

One tactic is affiliating your practice with a preexisting campaign, rather than trying to start your own. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) had a program focused on preventing heart attacks , called Million Hearts, in which the “M” is a heart. That kind of recognizable visual turns a mundane campaign into a powerful communication strategy.

Consider, too, the ChooseMyPlate program, a variation on the food pyramid that offers a structure for meal planning targeted toward health and nutrition and away from cravings.

Other visuals might focus on medication management and wound care, but all are easily accessible for patients with varying literacy levels.

4. Post a PSA.

Considering video’s impact, it’s worth the effort to disseminate others’ public service announcements or produce your own to spread key health care information. PSAs can be high-level productions— such as this Alzheimer’s video featuring professional actors—or goofy, homespun clips that catch the viewer’s attention.

Both high-end and silly videos convey their information, albeit through contrasting approaches. In making your own, you can unify your team and create a connection between your staff and your patients.

Health care communication doesn’t have to be dense and overwhelming. Simplify messaging, and focus on key information to help your patients understand core concepts of wellness and preventative care.

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn .

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