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Showing how to make medical content accessible

How to make your medical content accessible

How to make your medical content accessible

Medical information is only accessible to wider audiences when it is communicated in a way that is easy to understand. The need to summarise clinical study results into clear, concise, compelling plain language summaries or multimedia content stems from the limited time available to healthcare professionals (HCPs) as well as patients who have a special interests in research. All medical content must be carefully crafted to effectively reach their target audience. 

Creating captivating digital assets, based on the latest clinical studies, can help an audience engage with them. In turn, this approach is line with the need to address healthcare professionals’ digital fatigue and time constraints. Concise content also makes a complex subject easier for a wider audience of non-experts, such as patients, to understand, and encourages them to read on. 

Why should medical content be accessible

Professionally created medical content makes your story accessible to a range of audiences, especially HCPs and patients. If HCPs can understand medical studies, they are more likely to take the outcomes of the studies into account when making a clinical decision. And if patients can see the benefits, they are more likely to trust the data and engage with subsequent healthcare advice.

Promoting greater understanding of medical content through clear communication also helps HCPs understand the factors contributing to diseases and health problems, enabling them to support better community health outcomes. 

Medical research can greatly impact patient welfare, so medical data producers have a duty to educate the HCPs directly responsible for patient care in their field. 

Requirements for medical education

In addition to the practical reasons for creating accessible content, there are also mandatory requirements for conveying information to HCPs. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has put in place a requirement that studies submitted to them for regulatory approval of new medicines must include plain language summaries (PLS). This fosters greater transparency around human trials and clarifies treatment implications for patients. 

EMA implemented these PLS requirements with the aim of improving engagement with people outside the medical field. EMA, as documented on their website, requires regular updates of documentation on both risks and benefits of any new medicine brought to the market.

The omnichannel strategy

In complement to PLS, there are many methods proven to increase information accessibility. Varying the format of teaser digital content, for example, is a proven way to enhance engagement. Aston University School of Languages and Social Sciences conducted a study on that medium works best for conveying information to an audience. The study found that video abstracts and PLS are the most effective resources. 

What is more, communicating in parallel through multiple channels is also an effective approach.  What is referred to as an omnichannel strategy is a multi-faceted approach in which one source document is used to create several pieces of content across multiple formats. These digital assets might include infographicsvideos, plain language summaries, podcasts, and article highlights

Each content asset is designed and crafted to fit the audience’s interests and needs. The audience’s habits, requirements, and preferences determine the content, the format, and the medium. This tailored strategy improves engagement regardless of the research topic. 

Why use an omnichannel strategy

The benefits of an omnichannel strategy easily justify the resources required to implement it.

HCPs have limited time each day in which to read up on the latest research. They typically access digital content that takes five to ten minutes to absorb. The time it takes to consume a piece of information varies depending on the format: a one-minute video might take less time to digest than a 500-word summary. 

Teaser digital content can help an audience decide whether to invest time in reading a full clinical study. In addition to time pressure, decreased attention spans mean we cannot expect HCPs to read a long study without first knowing if it is relevant to them. 

Offering content across different formats acknowledges that individual HCPs have diverse learning needs. Some people respond better to video than text-based material . Others love to listen to podcast interviews with key opinion leaders (KOLs). We should distribute each piece of content in a way that plays to its strengths, rather than assuming all content should span multiple platforms. 

Let\’s look at some specific examples. 

  • Plain language summaries

Plain language summaries are short abstracts which introduce medical studies and dense specialised information in a straightforward, digestible style. Besides being mandatory in some cases, these summaries offer a clear, inviting way for patients to engage with research. Read more about the advantages of plain language summaries here

These summaries do, however, come with a few disadvantages. There are no agreed standards or formats for plain language summaries, so readers may find it confusing to see pieces in different styles addressing similar subjects. Text summaries are also less captivating than other content formats. 

  • Videos

Video can be a challenging medium for communication, especially around complex topics. Watching a video, it is harder to retain the information than if reading a text. The language and visuals must be simple or the content risks leaving the viewer confused. 

Nonetheless, there are huge advantages to using video as a means of conveying information. Both animated and live-action videos are interesting, visually stimulating and easy to digest and share. Video is great at grabbing the audience’s attention and is widely used among communication professionals. Besides video, digital natives have selected another form of communication  as their preferred medium, 

  • Podcasts 

Audio content is a great way of retaining an audience’s attention over a longer period of time. A podcast is an attractive concept, as it is easy to share on most online platforms, linked to an article, or as a stand-alone asset. Podcasts are versatile and engaging, as well as informative, valuable features in an age of information overload. 

When based on an interview with a KOLs, a podcast fosters trust from the audience that a written piece might not elicit as easily, due to its more intimate nature. You can listen to a compelling example here. However, if the recording is too long, though, the audience will lose interest. Dense information may need to be presented in a series of podcasts, to avoid sparking digital fatigue in the audience. 

  • Infographics 

Where audio media is not practical or suitable, an infographic might be a simpler option for breaking-down complex ideas into simple messages. Infographics are attractive, digestible and perfect for visual learners. They are relatively quick to produce and can be used almost anywhere, on their own or as enhancements to larger pieces. 

Nevertheless, an infographic is limited in the amount of information it can convey. It must be interesting but not overstimulating, keeping its visuals simple to ensure the audience can understand the concepts involved. Infographics typically keep wording to a minimum, leaving little scope for detail. 

Captivating content made easy

Across all formats, content must always be carefully crafted to grab the audience\’s attention. Digital content must present information in a clear, concise, captivating style, allowing HCPs to make the most of their research time.

The attractiveness of the content is just as important as the information itself. There is no point wasting limited resources on contentthat is not impactful and thought-provoking, as it will fail to engage targeted audience. 

A seasoned team of medical content creators and editors are the secret to creating content that is fully compliant, quality controlled, and dynamic while remaining an audience-friendly piece of content, ready for submission to medical and legal review. 

Not sure where to find such experts? SciencePOD\’s specialist creators and editors are here to help. We create stunning digital assets across medical fields, tailored to your audience. Find out more here.