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For health care providers, content marketing offers exceptional benefits beyond promoting the services they provide to the greater community. Content marketing gives existing and potential patients the information they seek to advance their personal health goals.

Unfortunately, many in the medical field are unsure how to provide medically relevant content that engages their customers while remaining compliant with professional ethics or regulations. Those that master the process, however, enjoy increased patient engagement and better customer satisfaction across their patient and client base.

Concerns specific to the medical industry

An astonishing 72 percent of internet users report searching for medical information online. Marketers seeking to attract their attention, however, must be careful not to violate America’s medical services industry rules, particularly the HIPAA statute which governs patient confidentiality.

The challenge is significant because content marketing often involves sharing customer data in the form of case studies, interviews, or success stories. However, this becomes more difficult in a health care content context. Whether inadvertently or intentionally, revealing patient identification in any way opens the medical practitioner to a risk of sanctions for violating HIPAA.

Careful content construction avoids rules violations …

Content developed for health care professionals avoids rules violations by adhering to three key principles:

  1. It never contains protected health information (PHI) – ever.
  2. The content uses real-life patient information only in aggregate or surrogate form. This provide significant health-related data while avoiding identification of individual patients.
  3. Lastly, it contemplates the compliance requirements of all players in the content creation and distribution strategy. This includes third party health services vendors.

Ergo, well-crafted health care content prioritizes the protection of patient privacy before pursuing the topic further.

… while offering consumers and patients valuable health-related information

After addressing the privacy concerns, health care content delivers an almost unlimited roster of value for both the provider and existing or potential patients.

Enhancing credibility through an online library

An online library consisting of current and archived blog posts, articles, white papers, and ebooks offers members and patients access to educational materials specific to their health concerns. These resources enhance a patient’s “user experience” with the practice and the practitioner. They provide accurate and easy-to-access information about a condition. When offered to the general public, the content library sets professionals apart from competitors by establishing them as reliable experts in their industry sector.

Additionally, a well-structured library allows the practitioner to easily follow through on promises made in the exam room. Most doctor’s visits are too short to permit a full discussion of patient concerns and professional responses. However, the online library usually contains the answers to patient queries. Physicians need only refer their patients to the correct documents to ensure they get the information they need.

Filling the online medical library

The variety of online marketing content formats offers research and learning options for different patients:

  • Blog posts are key components of every marketing strategy. Seventy-one percent of business bloggers report increased visibility within their industry because of the blog. Medically relevant blog content gives practitioners an additional portal through which to educate patients, beyond the standard face-to-face appointment. Blog posts are usually short, between 300 and 800 words, but provide quick snapshots of data to educate readers. Often, blog content invites the reader to look elsewhere on the website to discover more information on the subject matter. And blog posts can be used to alert viewers to advances or changes in medical practices.
  • Articles are usually longer and more comprehensive than blog posts. They provide deeper insights and even historical references which sharpen the relevance and the educational value of the medical topic.
  • White papers and ebooks are longer content pieces and often detail a broader scope of information. This information addresses the health concern from many angles.

Two significant factors are driving the need for improved content marketing in the medical field:

  1. Technology is raising consumer expectations for vendors in every service, including medical health services. Today’s patients expect their health care providers to offer 21st century support with 21stcentury tools.
  2. Current marketing practices aren’t working. Despite the value that content marketing offers the health care industry, only four percent of practitioners who report using it believe their content is effective.

There is a myriad of ways that content marketing can enhance a patient’s experience with a health care professional. Providers who employ both content and strategy are sure to see the value of their business rise alongside the satisfaction of their patients and customers.

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