As communications professionals, it’s so easy to get lost in the technical aspects of healthcare that we often forget about the power of telling individual human stories, specifically those of patients. With the complex advancements in technology, data, and life sciences, it can be hard to make healthcare relatable. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s our job to humanize the industry. There’s no better way to do that than by centering your stories around patients.
Here are 5 tips to simplify and amplify patient health care stories:
Planning makes perfect
Create an editorial calendar and map out your proactive stories for the year. Some key components may include health awareness months, key milestones such as a new hospital opening, or a new service that will enhance patient care. Don’t forget upcoming developments that are a high priority for stakeholders. And leave room for stories that pop up at the spur of the moment – they always do.
Focus on the patient/provider journey
Every reader relates to the patient journey. We’ve all been under the care of doctors and nurses at one point or another. In every interaction, receiving personalized care and developing a meaningful connection made a difference in our outcomes. Together, patients and physicians can tell compelling stories of their tragedies and triumphs, and their illnesses and cures.
Patients first, awards second
Hospitals endure rigorous requirements to land hard-earned accreditations and awards, which is a great sign of reputable, high-quality care. Although perfect for internal and shared channels, stories centered around industry certifications often fall on deaf ears with journalists. You’ll have better luck tying in a patient health care story to back up that hard-earned achievement. For example, let’s say your hospital receives an accreditation for providing the “Gold” standard of care for its breastfeeding program. You can identify a mom and newborn who went through the program and tell the story of their personal experience.
Follow the P-S-R structure
While no two stories are the same, readers subconsciously follow a narrative pattern. Don’t risk losing their interest. Every story should follow these three elements in order: Problem, Solution, Results. The reader wants to connect with the patient right off the bat, so identify who they are and the health issue they endured. Then, lead the reader into how the health scare was diagnosed and treated. Lastly, leave the reader with some hope or a final thought. Describe how their life vastly improved as a result of the solution.
Internal before external
The best way to streamline your efforts is to start from within. Interview your patient and/or provider and whip up a great story to share on your owned channels. These include internal newsletters, CEO memos, social media or your intranet. Then pull from your great internal content to write your media pitch. Any media stories that get placed from your hard earned-efforts should be shared on your social channels, as well as the business and personal channels of everyone involved.
Just remember to keep your stories simple and easy to digest. Patient stories are our bread and butter. The easier we make it on patients and health care providers to share their stories, the more we can awaken the tales within hospitals that go untold every day.