Medical Content Writing: How to Stay Engaging Yet Accurate
Updated: Sep 18
Whether you're conveying the benefits of your supplements, penning a patient leaflet, or creating an email marketing strategy for a consumer allergy test, medical content writing is a challenge. Unlike conventional forms of copywriting, businesses must walk a fine line between compelling content and maintaining a high level of accuracy.
Even one slip-up, erroneous fact, or misquoted study can leave consumers sceptical about a product or service's veracity. After all, who wants to take chances with their health?
Except: businesses either have to rely on content writers who lack the expertise to stay accurate or medical writers who struggle to translate dense jargon into captivating prose.
Sound familiar? Don't worry – below, we're covering everything you need to know about keeping your medical-related content as riveting as it is reliable.
In this article:
What is Medical Content Writing?
Medical content writing is the art of crafting well-researched, factual, and engaging content related to health and wellness. It involves adeptly juggling medical accuracy with a narrative style that holds readers' attention.
Moreover, it requires a keen understanding of regulatory guidelines, ensuring no false claims or misleading information is passed onto readers. It's a challenging task but essential for businesses operating within the healthcare sector, including supplement stores, medical testing, pharmaceutical companies, nutritional businesses, biotech labs, and more.
Examples of medical content writing include:
Descriptive articles on medical procedures
Informative blog posts about disease management
Patient education materials
Health supplement product descriptions
Email marketing campaigns for medical services
Case studies showcasing clinical trial results
Social media posts promoting health awareness
E-books elaborating on lifestyle diseases
Web content for hospitals and clinics
White papers on innovative medical technologies
8 Tips To Keep Your Healthcare Copywriting Engaging and Accurate
1. Do Your Research
Never take someone's word for it. Just because you heard that cracking your knuckles causes arthritis doesn't mean it's true (it's 100% safe, by the way).
You should always read the relevant primary sources, where possible. That means delving into RCTs, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and more. That being said, some sites like Healthline do a tremendous job researching papers and are a fantastic first stop when reviewing the literature. Other sites, such as NHS, Cleveland Clinic, and MayoClinic, are helpful and reliable sources for basic knowledge.
2. Cite Your Sources
Ever read a claim in an article and want to read more, but there's no reference (not even a hyperlink)? Annoying, isn't it? Makes you wonder if they just made it up.
Failing to cite your sources is the cardinal sin of medical writing. You may get away with it when writing about construction or the latest software package; it's inappropriate when people's health is on the line.
That doesn't mean you need to go full Harvard Referencing. As a general rule, embedding hyperlinks into your text is a good place to start. Or, if you want to look really impressive, follow something like the Vancouver system, adding superscript numbers and creating a list of sources at the end. For regular websites, just add the URL; for academic papers, you should use the actual paper reference.
Here's a hint: you don't need to write out the reference yourself; Google Scholar lets you copy and paste the reference to every paper.
3. Avoid Bamboozling Jargon
Medical terminology is almost a foreign language. Balancing accuracy without alienating your audience is the most challenging here. Myocardial infarction, for example, is technically a heart attack. However, the former is much more accurate than the latter.
You should judge the situation. Do you really need to use hypertension, or would high blood pressure suffice? Will your audience understand gastroesophageal reflux disease or cerebrovascular accident? Or should you just use acid reflux and stroke?
4. Tell a Story
Stories connect to use. They make the abstract tangible and evoke emotions. Don't forget the human element, even if you're writing about cold, hard medical terminology. Relate the condition or finding to a real-life situation or case study.
Personalize the info; make it human; be relatable.
By transforming a dense collection of facts into a compelling narrative, you not only make it comprehensible but also only keep the reader reading. It's why we keep John Grisham by our bedsides over dense legal textbooks.
5. Use Visuals
Can you picture how an antibiotic beats a virus? Or how a certain drug blocks an enzyme? No? You're not alone. Medical concepts don't lend themselves to vivid mental imagery. That prevents a considerable chunk of your audience from grasping an idea.
Adding a diagram, graph, or even a picture can transform a concept or factoid into something tangible. As they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Not only that, but it's also a welcome relief from text-heavy content, improving the overall reading experience.
6. Employ Clever Metaphors
Metaphors serve as powerful tools to simplify complex ideas and facilitate understanding. For example, the immune system could be compared to a nation's defence system, always on guard to protect against foreign invaders. Enzymes and drugs, meanwhile, work like a lock and key.
These ingenious mental images make technical, medical information more approachable and understandable for your readers. However, remember to use metaphors judiciously – they should clarify concepts, not complicate them.
7. Keep to the Point
Don't go off on a tangent. It's a common mistake among new writers to overcomplicate text or put everything they're thinking down on the page. Always ask yourself how every sentence adds to the overall goal of the content.
This means eliminating unnecessary jargon and avoiding convoluted sentences. In fact, you could probably cut almost a third of the sentences or words out of most content and retain the same core information.
Remember: clear, concise writing enhances comprehension and respects your reader's time and attention.
8. Know Thy Audience
Your audience's knowledge level, interests, and needs should guide your content creation. Technical language and in-depth analysis may be appropriate if you're writing for healthcare professionals. However, if your target audience is the general public, you should focus on simplifying medical terminology and providing practical, actionable information.
Tailoring your content to your audience not only enhances readability but also builds credibility and trust with your readers.
Medical content writing doesn't have to be so daunting. Performing comprehensive, original research, translating complex terms into everyday language, and using visuals and metaphors all work to transform the bland or indigestible into fun, friendly content.
Get more hints and tips from the rest of our resources. Or, if you need compelling content for your healthcare brand, we're ready to help. Book your free consultation today!