Writing ‘digital’ medical communications.

We are all digital now
The internet, via our computers, iPads, iPhones and mp3s (not to mention TVs and Radios) provides us with our daily dose of data, information, social interactivity and entertainment. We also create, promote and write in the digital medium as we communicate with others via the internet. As time marches on, digital media are rapidly making the printed medium redundant, and this switch is the real revolution we are experiencing in communications today.

Digital advertising
Digital advertising is when businesses leverage internet technologies to deliver product and other promotions to consumers. Digital advert

ising includes promotional ads, messages and data delivered through email, social media websites, online advertising on search engines, banner ads on mobile or Web sites and affiliates’ programmes. Medical communications is as much a part of this new revolution as any other form of consumer or specialist advertising.

Digital is a medium, not an idea
A lot of people tend to get confused about ‘digital’ advertising. It’s as if it has become a whole new skill set that only the very cleverest people and the most ‘specialised’ agencies can understand and work in. So whatever Marshall McLuhan said in 1964, let’s get one thing clear, digital is a medium, not an idea. The medium is not ‘the message’ itself. The ‘message’ still needs to be written (or at least typed up on some form of computer!)

New ways of communicating with healthcare professionals
Because the digital medium is rapidly spelling the death knell of printed product selling, there has been a seismic shift in the use of digital channels to target healthcare professionals with branded and data communications. A doctor may still read his GP or Pulse magazine with its waning number of often tired drug ads, but these days his attention is more likely to be captured by carefully targeted, modern medical communications received and embellished via his new laptop, iPhone or iPad.

‘Digital’ medical writing and medical communications
Today’s medical writer must be able to adapt his ideas and words to the various channels of the digital medium. So when writing an E-Detail/Sales aid, for example, having come up with an acceptable idea, it is no longer enough to think linearly, to suggest turning to the next page and then the next, as might happen in a printed sales aid. The medical writer must be able to demonstrate how his idea works not only in terms of visuals, copy and graphics, but through its ability to sign-post back and forth to other pages and data.

A boom in patient accessibility
As a result of the internet and social media, there is more information that ever before on illness and disease, and advice on treating or managing conditions; not to mention the ability of disease sufferers to share and discuss their circumstances with others. Whilst it is still not permissible to sell prescription drugs directly to patients, digital media is creating an environment where patients are becoming increasingly informed and pro-active in their approach to treatment – a promotional opportunity that continues to challenge medical writers and marketers alike.


About the writer:

Harry is an award-winning medical copywriter of many years standing. Following Creative Director positions at several leading UK healthcare ad agencies, he now devotes himself fulltime to freelance medical copywriting. As well as the UK, he has worked in the EU, and likes working directly with clients as communication tends to be immediate and more efficient, with fewer levels of approval.