To determine industry trends in health writing, it’s important to look at emerging focus areas in both content marketing AND healthcare.
In my second last post of 2017, I wrote about how stimulating the desire to change could be more effective than writing about how to change.
I feel this approach is part of a bigger shift in our field, and it ties in nicely with the industry’s increasing focus on the concept of patient-centred communication.
In a world where the pendulum continues to swing from ‘doctor know’s best’ and the general public are feeling more empowered than ever, patient-centred communication is a trend that’s gaining traction in our industry.
Patient-centred communication is about listening first, and empowering patients with knowledge so they can play a key role in their health care and the care of their families.
While face-to-face communication is more effective than written communication, there’s a lot that health writers can learn from this best-practice approach to care.
Patient-centred writing involves understanding your readers’ wants, needs, fears, hesitations, questions and literacy levels. If you can address these aspects in your writing, you’ll be providing high-quality, useful and socially responsible health content.
An emphasis on patient-centred communication is one industry trend we’ll continue to see in 2018 – but, what else will we see?
Content marketing trends for 2018
In Contently’s 2018 piece on the biggest content marketing trends for 2018, the author wrote that a key content marketing priority this year would be “figuring out how to use content in a way that makes every interaction with your customers more effective.”
Effective communication is a strategic approach to content – and, it’s about creating messages that ‘stick’.
I believe healthcare communication research can help us to make our content more effective – especially with regards to understanding the factors that motivate behaviour change and the words that help and hinder our readers’ understanding of health issues.
Other key content marketing trends in 2018 to note include:
- Patient desire for transparency – in our digital world, it makes sense that consumers are interested to know about the people and faces behind the brands and businesses
- Personalisation – as understanding your audience is the key to better engagement, we’ll see more tools to help achieve a greater level of personalisation and 1:1 communication
- Localisation – health communication research has already examined how different cultures appreciate health messages; what works in one culture doesn’t resonate with another, and certain communities need tailored messages that acknowledge their differences.
Health industry trends in 2018
- Rapid technological advancements – AI will progress, and new health apps, devices and wearables will continue to flood the market
- Digital health – digital health interventions that empower people to manage their health and reduce hospital admissions will thrive
- Big data – data will be a key focus, as companies have so much data that they can start to model the risk factors associated with a patient or procedure
- Virtual reality – augmented reality for training, diagnosis and patient education is on the way to becoming mainstream
- Real-world data – the industry will need to allow for real-world data, which is data collected under normal day-to-day circumstances as opposed to inside a randomized clinical trial
- Personalised and precision medicine – a highly targeted, tailored approach to medicine, precision medicine will be used by more and more health professionals
- Ongoing challenges regarding access to research – as there’s no clear solution to the issue of open access research, paywall restrictions will continue to be a challenge for people who require access to research
- Patient experience as a priority – value, not volume, will drive patient decision-making, and we’ll see more healthcare professionals, businesses and practices wanting to add more value to their marketing through initiatives like blogs and patient information
- Trust – patients with a low level of trust in their healthcare providers are more likely to feel dissatisfied, so helping healthcare businesses communicate in a trustworthy manner will be essential
We’ll even see new trends like biohacking – consumers taking research into their own hands – continue to emerge. And, if you think that sounds crazy, read this.
Ultimately, we’re working in a rapidly-advancing field. Expect to hear more about automation, digital technology, blockchain and AI.
Schedule time to keep up-to-date with the latest advancements in healthcare and content marketing – including new publishing formats, social media and SEO.
The developments in healthcare and content marketing drive our opportunities as health writers.
The good news
As the healthcare and content marketing industries grow, so too do the opportunities for us as writers and communicators.
New and existing healthcare businesses (everyone from device start-ups to insurance companies to pharma) need specialist communication services – which is where we come in.
There’s never been a better time to become a freelance healthcare writer, there is plenty of work available in our field and there will continue to be work for some time.
As our industry booms, our role is not without its challenges. We’ll need to educate clients and employers about the importance of meeting the best-practices of high-quality health writing while adapting our approaches to new technological advancements.
We’ll need to reiterate to businesses the necessity of paying industry rates – especially as we’re constantly up against freelance marketplaces that allow clients to list jobs for next to nothing (effectively allowing for writers to be exploited).
And, we’ll need to deliver what the reader wants, in the way they want it – while ensuring our content is credible, accurate, engaging and in the readers’ best interests.
Despite these challenges, opportunities abound.
For health writers of the world, the future is exciting.