As Some Patients Cut Through The Noise By Making Their Own, Are You Listening?

The web provides the ability to target niche groups with unique content that is relevant to a specific group. And yet …

Discussion of creating relevance to targeted markets (i.e., the Long Tail) is well-covered territory. Entire ecosystems have popped up with online content and communities around very specific topics. And yet …

When it comes to targeted, reliable information about specific medical conditions, a dearth of compelling, easy-to-understand offerings can quickly cause a patient to get frustrated. And if that medical condition causes a painful quality-of-life situation, that frustrated patient can quickly become despondent.

Disclosure: This is personal. I’ve watched someone I’m very close to go through such aggravation as they’ve been learning about and dealing with a condition called psoriatic arthritis (PA), an auto-immune disease that causes joint pain and other debilitating symptoms.

Those with PA find themselves tired, and not just because of the condition itself. Many are frustrated by the extended effort it takes to both explain the condition to others (including some doctors!) while trying to sift through information online that is not actually targeted to them, but rather to sufferers of conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Because relatively few people (approximately 0.04-0.1% of the U.S. adult population) have PA, there is not the amount of polished, straight-forward information that you can find for other, more widespread conditions.



Meantime, some people are looking to take matters into their own hands in an effort to better define themselves in the hope that others will better understand their condition.

RA Warrior, a blogger who writes about Rheumatoid Arthritis, has joined a movement to change the name to Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease.

In a blog post explaining the move, she writes the following: “Do people with other conditions or causes wait to be given whatever change they need? No, they demand it.”

So you might be asking, what can health marketers learn from situations like these?

First, it pays to listen. Knowing what an audience is looking for (or in this case, demanding) provides tremendous opportunities to connect with it. Supportive, informative comments in blog posts are a great place to start.

Second, take stock of your own content from the audience perspective. Are there opportunities to rephrase a few key sentences? Are there ways to tweak your content so that it can speak to patients with similar conditions in addition to the one it’s primarily focused on?

Have you searched Quora for topics you have relevant content for? Did you see good questions there you could answer and post on your site?

Does your site have video? Is it speaking to a specific audience? Is it transcribed? If not, do you feel that it can still be discovered via search? Is it on YouTube? If so, is it annotated there?

Do you have communities on your site? Are they targeted enough, or does a frustrated minority group have to sift through the noise generated by larger and more dominant interest groups? Could you carve out a special place for those smaller niches to have deeper, more meaningful conversations?

If you run a hospital web site with specialties that focuses on rare conditions, are you providing enough content online that people might be so interested in and appreciative of, they’d be willing to travel to your office for a second opinion?

When you’re publishing content on specific conditions, what keywords are you including? Do you have a go-to list that will help you get discovered for phrases such as “[condition] diagnosis criteria,” “[condition] symptoms and treatment,” and “[condition] test results”?

We pride ourselves on helping our clients reach larger and more targeted audiences through our SEO and paid media initiatives. But it’s even more satisfying when the work of making compelling content more discoverable is for audiences who are desperately trying to truly make their lives better. 

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