4 words and phrases to avoid in healthcare marketing

March 26, 2013
Stephanie Burton Director, Healthcare Marketing

At my first public relations internship, one instruction was very clear: Never, ever use the word, “enjoy.” This had me curious, especially considering the direction came from our client, a national tourist attraction people were supposed to, well, enjoy.

That summer, I leaned on about a dozen phrases such as “take pleasure in,” “appreciate” or “get a kick out of” to describe experiences at the famed travel destination. Over time, the “enjoy ban” began to make sense. The word was overused. Tired. Had lost its meaning. I finally got it.

Healthcare marketing is filled with similar words and phrases that should be banned. Some can be replaced with a synonym. Others need some creative engineering. Here are a few words and phrases we all should add to our “never use” list:

  1. State-of-the-art. This phrase often is used to help differentiate us from our competitors. The problem? Our competitors have state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, too. Think about what really makes you special. Do you offer the first hybrid catheterization lab in the region? Are you the home of the only Level I trauma center in the state? Are you the first? The best? The only? This is the information that really separates you from your competitors.
  2. Multidisciplinary. With The Joint Commission’s increased focus on health literacy, simple is better. Instead of saying multidisciplinary, explain what it means using words with no more than three syllables. 
  3. Qualified. Would you hire unqualified professionals to care for your patients? Consider what makes your staff qualified. Tell your audience about the board-certified physician who co-authors a major medical text. Or, talk about the nurse who had to have three years of experience in an emergency room setting before becoming a member of the transport team.
  4. Comprehensive. Much like “enjoy,” comprehensive has lost its meaning over the years. If you must, pull out the thesaurus for synonyms. Better yet, get rid of the adjective altogether.

What words should be added to this list? What is your health institution doing to make your marketing materials easier to read?


Stephanie Hungerford, APR, is the Director of Healthcare Marketing at Core Creative. Follow Stephanie on Twitter @shungerford.


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