Enhancing experiences through healthcare storytelling

13/03/2019 8:00 am

Some of the most powerful stories in history tell the tales of real people’s lives, their problems and the solutions they find through their own endeavours. These stories of triumph over adversity encourage us to find our own fortitude and inner strength, whether we relate with the character or the plot, the stories that cause us to change or enact a certain behaviour do so because we relate to them. It is this notion that is a particularly interesting concept when we think about healthcare storytelling.

Building storytelling into healthcare communications

From executive leaders, business updates, meetings and speaking engagements, when communications have storytelling at their root, audience engagement is stronger while also promoting value perception, positive opinion, and growth.

Content creators often go wrong with healthcare storytelling when they miss the point of identifying the hero of the story. If you have a narrative to your content, then you have a story and every story has a hero, and that hero is ultimately the person reading or listening to the story. Storytellers don’t tell stories to show off their expertise or demonstrate their skill. They tell stories to educate, to entertain, to enrich lives, to uplift and motivate. The power of a story lies in its ability to join existing conversations on a given topic and link the reader to that narrative. When storytelling deviates from centring on the health seeker, the emphasis shifts, and the ‘hero’ concept becomes misplaced.

Matching story to audience

Healthcare storytelling takes some skill and accurate audience segmentation. A story that appeals to a healthcare professional needs a slightly different telling than one crafted to engage and inform a patient. So, the target audience determines the story and the angle from which it’s told.

Research, and lots of it, is key. It comprises of pulling together diverse strands of data and drawing insights from those pieces of information. But also, research comes from real life, real-time conversations occurring on social media, mapping trends and topics of current interest or development.

Measuring healthcare storytelling success

Success is a constantly shifting platform, and difficult to measure. Whether stories are intended to engage industry influencers or the patient end-users, social media is a powerful tactic. Both paid and organic forms of advertising or sharing play a part and are equally valid.

With social media, we can tap into a fundamental storytelling principle, which is that of meeting people at the place where they are, rather than demanding they make the journey to where we are.

One of the most rewarding and revealing measurements of success can come from behavioural metrics and monitoring public opinion over a given length of time. How are people reacting to new content? Is opinion more positive now than before? Are more people engaging favourably with storytelling content?

Monitoring opinion also creates an opportunity to re-evaluate and change existing content, empowering brands to constantly improve outcomes through skilled pharma storytelling.

About the author

COUCH is a new breed of health communications agency that, due to a very personal experience, has at its core a mission to improve the lives of everyone. And so we are motivated by the profound understanding that, collectively, we need to do better. We are human to work with because we focus on using our skills and expertise for the common good.

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