ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Kill Typos, Not People

Updated on April 29, 2019
AliceLamWriter profile image

I write fiction and health content. I'm a beta reader. I’ve been published in anthologies. Read more stories at my website.


The Issue At Hand

As a doctor with 20 years’ experience, I specialise in health writing for a wide audience.

I’m ecstatic to see paternalistic attitudes dwindle in our profession. These days, health care providers are devoting more energy than ever before into patient-centred communication.

But before we look at how to do it, let’s look at the consequences of poor communication with patients/clients.

Dangers Of Inadequate Communication

Have you ever come away from the doctor's with a feeling that your questions haven't been answered, or perhaps that you are confused by what has been discussed? If the doctor hasn't been clear, the outcome might be worse than dissatisfaction alone.

The same applies to written, audio and video health content. A message delivered with the wrong wording, tone or level can significantly affect its effectiveness.

Here's an article looking at the consequences of not getting the message right. By the way, for ‘patient’ we can also extrapolate to ‘customer’ or ‘client.

The authors concluded an aftermath of “unnecessary pain, in avoidable deaths, in poor health outcomes, in the prolongation of illnesses” and “costs in terms of the financial part of the equation, in large sums of money that get spent unnecessarily because of the communication breakdowns and barriers”.

Good quality health communication is key to good outcomes.

What is patient-centred communication?

It is clear that communication aimed at health consumers needs to be written in a particular way, informational but also in a style that will be well-received.

This article published in PubMed Central® suggests that core concepts include:

  1. Eliciting and understanding patient perspectives e.g. concerns, ideas, expectations, needs, feelings, and functioning.
  2. Understanding the patient within his or her unique psychosocial and cultural contexts.
  3. Reaching a shared understanding of patient problems and the treatments that are concordant with patient values.

When it comes down to written forms of patient-centred communication, here are some further recommendations for success.


How to succeed

Great readability. Gone are the days of being allowed to wow the patient with medical terminology and complex language. As a rough guide, it is often said that prose written for the health consumer should be easy enough for an 11-12 year old to understand.

The right style of writing. Language and style needs to hit the right tone. An article for a wellness magazine is going to be written differently from a newsletter from a health care provider, or a blog on an online support forum run by expert patients.

Writing for a particular platform. Here are some interesting statistics from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA):

  • an overwhelming majority of Australian adults (89 per cent) access the internet—climbing to 100 per cent among those aged 18–34
  • the mobile phone is the most popular and frequently used device for internet access
  • 70 per cent of Australians are using five or more separate communications services for personal purposes

With globalisation, the rise of small businesses, and a tsunami of social media and digital communications, unfortunately there is no ‘one size fits all’. Content and style should be tailored for a particular audience and platform.

Keep it current. Content needs to keep up with today's controversies, news and trends.

Make it evidence-based. As much as possible. Reputable sources and citations give authority to content.

Ensure technical accuracy. The dull yet still essential part: grammar, spelling, punctuation and word usage. A typo or incorrect use of a word can scupper an otherwise good piece.


Where to go for high quality health-related content

It helps to do some research when choosing a medical writer. Their qualifications such as a medical degree, Chinese medicine, dietetics can often determine their ability to write on a certain topic.

Ask for samples of their work. This is a great way of finding out more about their standard and styles of writing. If available, seeing testimonials from their clients can also be helpful.

Don't forget to check out your national medical writers association for a list of qualified writers, such as the American Medical Writers Association or the Australasian Medical Writers Association. Writers who are members of these groups are vetted and must provide of qualifications before they can be listed. There is usually a bio within each writer's listing too.

And finally, websites such as Fiverr offer freelance writer listings.

With so much at stake, choose your health writer wisely.

© 2019 Alice Lam


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)