We are all guilty of occasionally using verbal shorthand, technical talk, healthcare jargon, slang or hospital lingo, but it is important to remember that while other medical professionals will understand you your average patient will not. When writing content directed towards patients, write in plain language.
A few “failure to communicate” examples outlined in the blog post Doctors, Please Watch Your Language. When Medical Jargon Kills the Marketing Message are:
Ads that feature the treatment, surgery or technology, not the benefit. Proudly, the newspaper ad headline declares, “The Only 16 Slice CT Scanner in Hamilton County.” Or the list of dental services including “oral prophylaxis,” “ortho parameters” or even “periodontal” treatment.
Talking to doctors on a patient website. Videos, photos and slides are good material for a practice website as long as they speak to the consumer and not other providers. A well-intended surgeon posted PowerPoint slides from his presentation to a national academy meeting. Good stuff for other doctors, but way too technical for his website that targets patients.
Simple words can have different meanings. In an article at Kaiser Health News, “Javed Butler, a heart surgeon at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, said one obstacle to improving health literacy is the language that doctors typically use. “When we say ‘diet,’ we mean ‘food,’ but patients think we mean going on a [weight control] diet. And when we say ‘exercise,’ we may mean ‘walking,’ but patients think we mean ‘going to the gym.’”
Tip from your ehc.com team: Remember social media is informal! Keep your audience in mind when developing content and keep it fun! A Facebook status update should only be a couple lines long and a blog post should be 500 words or less. It is ok to keep it short and sweet.