A recent survey supports the belief that healthcare brands need to talk to patients differently or, at the very least, choose their words wisely. The UK poll, by Macmillan Cancer Support, revealed that many cancer patients don’t want to be called ‘victims’, ‘heroes’ and ‘fighters’.
“I prefer clear, factual language, so I describe myself as ‘living with incurable cancer’. I’m not brave or inspirational, I’m just trying to live the life I have left, well”, said Mandy Mahoney, who features in the Macmillan video. While a small percentage feel empowered by battle-ready words, most people find it upsetting that they’re made to feel as if cancer is a game, only to be ‘won’ or ‘lost’.
Using the right language is something we’ve been working on closely with our healthcare clients, ever since the balance of power started to shift from HCPs to patients.
With more people interested in, and capable of, delivering self-care; the growing number of online diagnostic tools; and the ability to buy your own supplies from online retailers such as Amazon, engaging with patients should now play a huge part in any healthcare brand’s strategy.
Taking this patient-centric approach helped Lohmann & Rauscher, a leading international manufacturer of compression bandages and garments, to stop selling a one-off solution and show patients they could truly provide “Support for Life”.
Choosing simple, uncomplicated language and breaking down medical jargon, helped us to deliver an effective online training tool to people living with the effects of stroke for the Stroke Association for Europe (SAFE).
And our long-standing client, Salts Healthcare, who make ostomy bags, have changed their entire vocabulary in recent years. Never referring to their customers as “patients” but rather as “people living with a stoma”.
It’s only when we make the shift from talking about “sufferers” and acknowledging that people with all kinds of conditions enjoy completely full and enriching lives that we can do our job. Essentially, we are making better connections between people and the products and services that can make their lives better.