Why Content is King in Patient Engagement Too

“Content is king” is a widely-known adage among marketers and businesspeople. Although there is some debate about the phrase’s origins, it was most notably written in an essay by Bill Gates in 1996. He used the term in a forecast about the future of websites and the internet as a marketplace for monetized content, saying, “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

Twenty-six years later, it appears he was spot on about content becoming the all-mighty ruler of the internet kingdom. Not only is selling content a way to make money on the internet, but any marketer worth their salt knows that a quality content strategy is essential for engaging customers, establishing business authority, and of course, ranking on Google. The next obvious question is, why does this matter to you, the healthcare provider, and what place does content have in healthcare and patient engagement?

When we consider that the purpose of content marketing is to engage and delight customers at its core, the connection to healthcare begins to take shape. As healthcare runs in the opposite direction of its traditional, paternalistic roots, patients gradually transform into empowered healthcare consumers. The analogy here is quite timely with the birth and growth of health consumerism.

So if patients are, in fact, consumers of healthcare, they are also your customers – customers with increasingly high expectations for quality healthcare experiences, digital tools, resources, and engaging information. They are also customers that have options for their healthcare, and they will shop around to find the providers and experiences they like best.

When everyone, digital health companies and healthcare providers alike, are trying to figure out the secret sauce for patient engagement, it seems to me that we should be taking some pointers from the marketing industry. Your ability to surprise, delight, and engage patients, much like general consumers, relies on high-quality content.

Why is content so important for patient engagement? Patient engagement and activation are growing initiatives at most healthcare organizations because emerging research is supporting their role in improving care plan adherence and subsequently, health outcomes. The CDC defines patient activation as “the knowledge, skills, and confidence to become actively engaged in their health care.”

So what does a content strategy look like in healthcare? Historically, content in healthcare has been in hard-copy format. I’d guess that most of us have had the following experience: go to the doctor’s office, receive a diagnosis, talk to the doctor for less than five minutes, and walk out with and general handout or pamphlet. Or what about the doctors or physical therapists that would give you handwritten instructions or draw stick-figure pictures – A for effort, C for execution. Inevitably, what happens next to hard-copy content – it gets lost, it gets food/drink spilled on it, or it gets thrown in the trash.

This story makes it quite clear that “having content” is not enough. The quality of the content matters. The delivery method matters. The professionalism of the content experience matters.

Thus, a comprehensive, modern healthcare content strategy looks like this:

  1. Evidence-based health & wellness content
  2. Interactive, engaging content
  3. Flexible content management system
  4. Content personalization capabilities
  5. An accessible, user-friendly content delivery mechanism
  6. Dynamic content strategy