Writing content for your medical practice is like getting a non-compliant patient to exercise. You know you need to write blogs, create videos, and post on social media, but it can be challenging to find the time and motivation to make it happen. The problem is that your competitors down the street are creating great content and it seems to be working for them. When you sit down to write, real fear can set in when you realize the quicksand that surrounds creating content in the medical field.
Knowing what to capitalize, how to use bullets, and when to spell out numbers are just three easy-to-learn, nuts-and-bolts issues you should consider. The real challenge is turning medical jargon into compelling content your patients understand.
Even with the increased difficulty of medical language, adding content to your practice’s website is entirely necessary. Keep in mind that 90% of marketers use content to attract customers and promote services, and 84% of potential clients expect to see entertaining and informative content on your website. Two-thirds of marketers in every field (not just healthcare) report increases in their content budgets this year. As we approach 2023, the need for content isn’t slowing down—it’s accelerating.
So, as you roll up your sleeves and sit down at the keyboard, here are a few grammar-related tips to solve the common writing conundrums that many healthcare content writers face.
Tip #1: Do You Capitalize Medical Credentials?
There are two key style guides most English language writers use: The Associated Press Stylebook (APA) and The Chicago Manual of Style. Both suggest these rules:
- Capitalize an academic degree only when you spell out the full name
- References to these degrees should not be capitalized
- Use a possessive apostrophe on an uncapitalized academic degree
- Do not use a possessive apostrophe on “associate degree” or “doctoral degree”
- Do not capitalize a major specialty
Here are some correct examples of how to capitalize medical credentials:
- Bachelor of Science in biology
- Master of Science in nursing
- bachelor’s degree in mathematics
- Ph.D. in mental health
- B.A. in chemistry
Tip #2: When and How Should I Use Bullets to Break Up Text?
Bullets are a great tool for breaking up text to improve readability. The eye naturally skims to bulleted text, allowing you to highlight important points. Bullets also let you break up dense information, making it easier for the reader to absorb.
However, bullets are not standardized in many style guides, which gives you some leeway in how you use them. Above all, no matter what choices you make—stick to them. Consider creating a style guide for your organization to avoid small inconsistencies between posts that can end up looking like typos.
What are the rules for bullets in text? Generally, they should:
- Emphasize information
- Encapsulate an idea or argument
- Aid reading comprehension
The first choice you have to make is whether to capitalize the first letter that follows the bullet. If you have a full sentence in the bullet, the choice is an easy one: capitalize the first word and end with a period. If you list just a single word or present an incomplete sentence, capitalization may not be necessary. However, you can if you think it looks better. Again, just be consistent across all of your content, using the same-sized bullets throughout.
Below are example sentences that demonstrate some of the correct ways to use bullets:
Cold and flu season is here. You can protect yourself by:
Reminder: Staff meeting at noon today. The agenda includes:
- Reviewing all patient feedback from last month.
- Dr. Kennedy will brief us on cash flow.
- Tonya will show us the new phone system.
The duties and responsibilities of the patient care coordinator include:
- Prepping surgery patients
- Performing post-op checkups
Tip #3: What About Numbers? Should I Spell Them Out?
The general rule of thumb in healthcare writing is to spell out any numbers below 10 and then use numeric figures for numbers 10 and above. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if your sentence starts with a number, you should always spell it out and capitalize it.
Non-technical writers often write out the numbers in full. More casual writers use numerals in every context—this certainly applies to the character-count-obsessed Twitter universe. As always, remain consistent in your approach.
Here are some correct examples of how to use numbers in your healthcare content:
- The study showed that 47% of patients prefer telemedicine over an in-person office visit.
- The practice ran low on vaccinations, with only eight shots left for a patient load of 23.
- Last month, we saw an increase in patient visits by 33%, increasing our average volume by two patients a day.
- Twelve of our doctors received outstanding patient reviews last month.
Tip #4: When Do I Use a Semicolon Over a Comma?
This is a great question; like any relationship, it’s complicated. Notice what we did there? A semicolon connects two separate but related clauses in a sentence. Think of a comma as a place to pause the sentence.
Here are some correct examples of how to use semicolons and commas:
- This was my second marriage; it was my husband’s first.
- Dr. Brown is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon; she’s also my mentor.
- If you’re ready to shed weight this winter, give up these three things: sugar, bread, and soda.
While you are free to use semicolons in your content, most marketers avoid using them at all costs. Why? Because everyday people are not used to encountering them in a sentence and can feel pretentious. Most clauses that could use a semicolon can also be broken up into two distinct sentences or rephrased using commas or a “—” (em dash).
How Can I Make Medical Content Writing Easier?
The ROI is clear: Great medical content writing can attract more patients to your practice. The problem for most independent practices is a lack of time to devote to the process.
As dedicated medical marketers, Insight Marketing Group has the time and expertise to create and implement a robust content marketing plan using proven strategies to drive patient volumes and increase engagement at your practice.
You can check out our content writing hacks at the Dr Marketing Tips Lab site. Some of our most recent topics included:
Contact us when you’re ready to talk about leveraging content to build your brand and grow your practice.