What is medical content writing?
Medical content writing is a broad term to describe many forms of clinically orientated writing. It may refer to content writing for academic journals, research papers, medical textbooks, and more consumer orientated forms in print media and on the Internet. True medical writing does not include sales copywriting. Since the Internet is the most widely used medium, medical content writing is almost synonymous with writing for websites. However, there are several other digital entities including blogs, forums, social media and news portals which may be relevant for medical content on the internet.
Medical content writing should also be differentiated from health writing on the Internet, the latter being more superficial and generalised and often a more consumer orientated magazine-style of writing.
Who is a medical content writer?
In the true sense of the word, medical content writing requires not only an academic background in the medical sciences but also a clinical perspective on the part of the writer. This is difficult to capture without having clinical experience over years – one-on-one interaction with a patient as a medical or related health care professional.
The accessibility of the Internet to people across the globe, of just about any socioeconomic level and irrespective of linguistic differences has made the Internet the leading source of medical information for the lay reader. It is therefore imperative that medical content writing disseminates accurate information that is clinically relevant for the patient.
Failure to do so can often lead to confusion, and even contradiction at times, between the advice given by the doctor and information sourced from the Internet. It can even affect patient compliance, meaning the way a person adheres to the prescribed treatment.
With this in mind, it is therefore important that the medical content writer should be a medical professional or related health care practitioner. However, medical professionals do notalways make for the best writers. The Internet being a medium where a person usually scans content, rather than reading each sentence in an article, requires the skill of the writer with the appropriate knowledge of Internet content writing. Medical professionals often lack these skills as an Internet writer, as do many professional writers.
A balance has to therefore be found between accurate, concise yet clinically relevant content and appropriately constructed content for the scanning reader. There is also the additional component of the search engine optimisation or SEO. It is therefore not surprising that the most reputable medical content on the Internet is written by more than one person, reviewed and edited by others and then optimized by an SEO professional with a health care background before being published.
Why is medical content important?
Many webmasters argue whether medical content is truly needed compared to the general overview of health related content on the Internet. The reader of today, who is often the patient, is more medically aware than his counterparts of yesteryear. This has been largely driven by the Internet, and also the accessibility of other forms of media including television, radio and print media.
Therefore medical content on the Internet which is not clinically relevant and does not have the depth of medical literature that the reader (aka patient) is searching for is often not for interest. As search engines uses various metrics to determine ranking based on user behaviour, medical content that lacks depth and relevance means that users will quickly click away. This ultimately affect the ranking of an article on the search engine results page (SERP).
The other major is factor that most popular health and medical websites on the Internet have already captured the audience with the appropriate depth of medical content. They have ensured that the content is adequate to cater for the lay reader who is more medically aware, or at least a background knowledge of basic concepts in anatomy and physiology. Anything less would be considered as sub-standard by regular Internet users.
Therefore the question should not be whether medical content on diseases and symptoms should be more medically inclined. Instead it should be questioned whether the same level of information as understood by the medical student or health care professional can be delivered to the Internet reader or patient in a manner that retains the technical detail yet is not confusing. Medical content for the Internet can therefore be defined as technical medical and clinically relevant information delivered in an easy to understand format for all readers.