11 healthcare marketing buzzwords to stop using (and what to say instead)

photo of a healthcare marketing specialist removing buzzwords from a campaign's collateral

Buzzwords are not unlike eating too many carbs, they vibrate for a moment but offer little substance over time. That truth applies to all communications and marketing, particularly when it comes to healthcare marketing buzzwords.

Like other highly-regulated industries looking to reach general consumer populations, healthcare marketing requires clarity and simplicity. Buzzwords can feel hip, current, and casual but often offer zero value to your reader, e.g., your potential patient or healthcare consumer.

The problem with healthcare marketing buzzwords

When it comes to content, quality is more important than quantity. In the saturated medical market, providers can stand out with patient communications that don’t use flashy jargon as their foundation.

Healthcare marketing buzzwords come and go. That’s why borrowing from current healthcare industry phrases can be detrimental to your practice and marketing efforts. When you follow the latest trend, that trend may already be vanishing on a distant horizon, giving way to the next healthcare marketing buzzword.

And when that happens, you risk losing your potential patient’s attention and the patience of search engines with your content. Search engines often drive those potential patients and healthcare consumers your way in the first place.

If search engines begin to devalue your content and you don’t react quickly, your hard work and content could be lost to a sea of irrelevance as your content starts to suffer search ranking placement. Keeping on top of all that can get expensive very quickly.

And if your advertising relies too heavily on generic and fleeting words, readers aren’t likely to click anyway.

It turns out that words really do matter.

Healthcare marketing buzzwords to avoid

Here, we take a look at a few of those words floating around the healthcare marketing buzzwords universe—words and phrases that ought to be retired or supplanted by verbiage that is more meaningful and useful to the person interested in reading it.

“Accredited”

As a stand-alone word, accredited can cause more concern than confidence in your reader. Without context, the term is generic enough that it quietly poses odd mental questions like, “Is there a reason I ought to wonder if you are accredited or not? And accredited for, or from, what/whom? Your physicians do have medical degrees, correct? I would hope so … assume so.”

Accredited has become a bit overused in language at large—speaking to one-off point solution training, less so category leadership and authority in your specialized practice or offerings.

If your healthcare organization has specific accreditations that you consider meaningful differentiators, by all means, list them. Otherwise, try to focus on why your practice, facility, or products solve a known problem for the person reading your content. Ask yourself, what will directly benefit them?

“Compassionate” and “caring”

TBH Creative’s Tatum, Brad, and Kayleigh discuss ways to be more clear and put patient needs first while reviewing a client’s healthcare marketing asset TBH Creative's Tatum, Brad, and Kayleigh discuss ways to be more clear and put patient needs first while reviewing a client's healthcare marketing asset.

Being compassionate and caring is important. Still, people read right past statements that a provider or healthcare team is compassionate and caring because many often make the claim. Even worse, like accreditation, users may wonder why a group would feel a need to boldly proclaim they are caring and compassionate in the first place.

Imagine if a stranger at a party walked up to you and began telling you that they pride themselves on their humility and humbleness. You’d probably start looking for an exit to another conversation.

But if that same person listened as you talked about how much you love playing tennis, then expressed their love of the game. And then that led to an engaging conversation. You might walk away thinking you’d just made a good friend.

But if later someone mentioned that the person you were chatting with was a top tennis player on the world stage, you might think, “Huh, I just thought they simply loved tennis as much as I do. How humble of them to meet me where I’m at and not feel the need to impress me. True humility.”

It’s like that with compassion and caring. Alone they are just overused healthcare marketing buzzwords. Instead, consider expressing true stories of compassion and caring at your workplace. Stories that are relatable to your prospective patients. Better yet, ask a patient to recount their personal account of understanding and comfort as they experienced it interacting with your healthcare practice.

Your team’s understanding and “going the extra mile” will be self-evident, more meaningful, and believable to the reader or visitor without you having to actually utter the words.

“Cutting-edge,” “leading-edge,” “state-of-the-art,” and “world-class”

In terms of buzzwords, “cutting-edge,” “leading-edge,” “state-of-the-art,” and “world-class” are among the most common words a marketer can employ—particularly a healthcare marketer.

Those terms have been over-used by so many for so long that they’ve completely lost any relevance or substance.

If you’ve invested in new resources, people, or equipment, explain why you invested in them.

People that engage with your brand aren’t looking for “cutting-edge” anything, nor do they care about that “New! X5000” piece of imaging equipment you’re paying down.

They’re laypeople trying to make an informed decision and get comfortable with you and your institution. Speak in plain language, their language. Instead of edgy names and buzzwords, provide them with a simple rationale about how your new resources will benefit them. Make your copy clear, compelling, and relatable to their lives and decision-making process.

“Value-based”

“Value-based” healthcare is not a widely understood term among consumers. It’s an emergent buzzphrase in the healthcare service community. If left unexplained, it is vague at best.

But if individuals look up the definition and discover that it’s tied to bottom lines and unit costs associated with healthcare outcomes, they may be left feeling like a car up on the rack—and you’re the mechanic.

And that it’s been dictated on high that your practice is expected to metaphorically “rebuild their engine” within a specified number of hours in the name of corporate due diligence.

A backfire like that is not the best way to position your healthcare brand. Following the crowd and employing the healthcare marketing buzzword of the day can be more off putting than you may think to some audience segments.

Instead, consider explaining that you are committed to your discipline’s best practices—list those best practices in lay terms. Stress that you strive to help your patient navigate insurance red tape or any reasonable efficiency you think may ease their fear of being bankrupted and not receiving the best care.

“Comprehensive”

There’s an old saying that goes something like, “If you claim to do everything well, you probably do nothing well.” It can be upsetting and even overwhelming to consider the word “comprehensive.”

Instead of trying to cover everything in a word, consider describing an easily understood and straightforward end-to-end process that sets your prospective patient or consumer at ease.

Your patients aren’t typically physicians, much less specialists. Break it down for them into bite-size blurbs and leave out the complexities. They’ll be far more impressed by your practice or organization when they don’t feel overwhelmed or worried that you do too many things but not their “thing.”

“Close-to-home”

The phrase “close-to-home” proposes a decision-making framework that is counterintuitive to establishing yourself as a valued provider of care, a community-minded group, or a practice built on relationships.

Leading with proximity is a commoditized premise. You are not a gas station or convenience store.

Think about it. If you really want, need, or value something—like a car, or the latest smartphone, or a friend you’d love to spend more time with, or an expert woodworker to craft your one-of-a-kind coffee table—distance is not an issue.

That concept is all the more true when valuing a healthcare provider. Your expertise, friendliness, helpfulness, presenting yourself as buttoned-up, knowing your patients by name, being looked up to in the community … patients seek these things, long for these things. Encouraging them to call you because you are close introduces a factor that clouds the more critical things you have to offer and say.

“eRx”

Buzzword-of-the-day acronyms and abbreviations like “eRx” fail to convey value or much of anything to healthcare shoppers and prospective patients interacting with your communications.

Placing an “e” before words and phrases became popular way back in the nineties. Utilizing that convention is neither a vintage marketing tactic nor a hip new synonym for electronic, digital, app, or web-based offerings.

Instead, “eRx” will position your organization as being dated.

If you’re trying to establish that you provide care or medical products on your website, app, or other digital means, consider simply saying so. Nearly everyone has a website now. The day of the “e” has long since passed.

healthcare marketing specialists collaborating to remove buzzwords from an asset

Direct wording ideas for healthcare marketing

It’s critical to always keep in mind the language of your prospective patient or healthcare consumer.

For example, the best advice at a local hardware store typically comes from an employee with lots of experience.

But, if that expert employee is willing to:

  • Put their ego aside
  • Listen carefully to the customer’s needs
  • Understand that the customer may have little or no experience
  • Be sensitive if a customer appears to be confused
  • Sense the customer may even be embarrassed by their lacking skills and knowledge

And then, knowing all that, speaks to those customers using clear and simple-to-understand language, delivered in lay terms with empathy and humility—well, that employee becomes sought after by customers and indispensable to the store’s success.

So it is with any specialized service—particularly healthcare.

The importance of target audiences and user intent

Continuing with the hardware store analogy, it’s critical to remember that customers are not all alike.

A 23-year-old woman who grew up rebuilding motorcycle engines is looking for a specific part, not an education.

Whereas a 43-year-old man who grew up in a home that hired out all mechanical tasks will require more time and attention.

As a healthcare provider, you should be prepared to adequately address as many types of visitors, prospective patients, and patients as possible.

For example, if a current patient visits your site, they’re likely making a beeline to your appointment page. They already know you. You don’t want to communicate with that visitor in a manner that leaves them feeling like a stranger.

But if a person arrives at your site and knows nothing about you, they need to be presented with clear, simple, and high-level language about what you provide—free of buzzwords.

And a person returning to your site will be looking for deeper proof points—content about your practice, people, and offerings. That deeper content should be readily available to them—but always presented in plain language.

Optimization with healthcare marketing keywords

Keep in mind that different people engage with you at different points in their decision-making journey (see above). When developing a keyword strategy, the same plain language you employ in your website and communication materials must be considered.

As a part of your overall healthcare marketing strategy, it is important to incorporate keywords people are actually searching for at those different parts of their journey. Don’t let buzzwords and empty phrases get in the way of finding your more meaningful words—speak their language in keywords as well.

FAQs about healthcare marketing buzzwords

What are the 5 Ps of healthcare marketing?

Well, one could claim that there are two sets of Ps. The first set includes:

  • Product
  • Place
  • Promotion
  • People

Let’s break those down a bit.

Product

Product concerns any product or service your healthcare practice offers and how it is perceived and packaged for those consuming it. Be sure to package your products so that consumers understand their value and benefit over other options available to them.

Place

Place refers to anywhere your products or services are engaged with, seen, conducted, practiced, or transacted—both inside and outside of your facility, online included. How you tend to your “places” and what they say about you are important.

Price

Price may seem self-explanatory, but pricing is a critical component of healthcare marketing if leveraged and communicated correctly.

People are accustomed to basing cost decisions not just upon a selling price alone—they’re interested in any qualified discounts, payment arrangements, credit terms, or even price-matching services available. It’s become part of their daily vernacular.

Consider these things when creating your pricing strategies and the consumer-facing communications you convey around them.

Promotion

From sponsorship at a farm market to online advertising, public relations articles to balloons handed out at a parade—promotions include anything that makes your healthcare organization better known.

Advertising costs money. That’s why it is essential to understand the value of a healthcare patient or consumer before investing in promotions to acquire them. A cost analysis to determine a break-even point is always warranted to ensure you spend promotional funds effectively.

People

People includes physician, nurses, office people—anyone who works at your healthcare facility. The decision to select a healthcare provider is primarily driven by your people. Customer service interactions are shared online—ensuring all staff is aware of the importance of this—and their role in effecting it—is a critical component of healthcare marketing.

Consider how you’d prefer your practice and people to be perceived by customers. Then work toward realizing that in every way possible. Full and immersive bios on your website are a great way to get the ball rolling in connecting your practitioners with potential patients in meaningful ways.

There is a second set of 5 Ps worth discussion—they relate directly to the first set of Ps. They include:

  • Physicians
  • Patients
  • Payers
  • The Public
  • The Presence of Politics

The influence of each of these five audiences should be considered as you create strategies around the first 5 Ps.

How can hospitals attract more patients?

Typically, hospitals rely on search engine marketing, also known as paid search ads, that appear at the top of a search engine results page when prospective patients search for terms and phrases.

Hospitals also attract new patients organically, e.g., by publishing blog articles and other content that search engines value and push to the top of the search engine results page. This is referred to as healthcare SEO. It takes effort and time but is very powerful and well worth the long-term investment in content creation. When it comes to search engine marketing and search engine optimization, in both cases, people are not using healthcare marketing buzzwords for their searches. Meaningful content that relates to their actual search queries wins the day.

There’s a lot to keep in mind when it comes to writing copy for patient audiences that is free of confusing and distracting healthcare marketing buzzwords. Read on for some answers to other questions related to creating the best possible healthcare content marketing assets.

Why should you avoid using healthcare jargon?

Sometimes, medical marketing literature includes words that are alien to some patients, leading to a breakdown in communication. You’re failing your patients when you write copy that includes too many unfamiliar healthcare marketing buzzwords. This practice of creating high-level copy can—unintentionally—result in confusion and or incomplete understanding.

According to a report from the Royal College of General Practitioners, “Too often, our healthcare environments fail to recognize the needs of people with different levels of understanding about their health, meaning that patients are failing to receive the right care at the right time.”

So skip the fancy words when creating healthcare marketing assets. Instead, stick with writing that uses words that are easy to understand—and remember!

What does “health literacy” mean?

Health literacy is a term used to describe a patient’s ability to understand information about their health and ask questions about health issues. Where can you find definitions of complex terms and uncommon acronyms used by medical professionals that a layperson will understand?

Your patients shouldn’t have a special vocabulary to understand your healthcare marketing materials. Studies have shown that writing in a direct, jargon-free way can help reduce hospitalizations and increase your patients’ proper use of prescribed medications.

If you need help simplifying your medical marketing writing by removing healthcare marketing buzzwords, visit Healthcare.gov. It has a free and easy-to-use glossary that includes definitions of many words used by professionals working in the healthcare industry.

Make every word count

Healthcare marketing buzzwords offer little value to your readers and visitors. Remember: Less than 15 seconds—that’s the average time spent on a website. That’s your window to engage with that reader.

Remove healthcare marketing buzzwords from your web copy

Given that time is precious, buzzwords take up valuable real estate. Patients simply won’t put up with those impediments in their hunt for information. They’ve been conditioned to sort fluff from substantive content in their daily use of the internet over the years.

If a person’s arm is in pain and they’re searching for answers, the term “eRx” could irritate them, reflect poorly on your brand, and drive them away from your website.

Value your readers and website visitors knowing they’re searching for words of substance and relief. Make every word count for them—and for you.

Let’s talk about how we can help you get more from your healthcare marketing

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Ed

About the author | Ed Illig

Ed writes on the importance of brand design, brand experience, and consumer engagement as business assets. And how creating, sustaining, and leveraging that brand equity advances stakeholder value for any organization.

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