How to start a healthcare blog patients will actually read

Blog roll

Yeah, yeah. We know. You’ve been meaning to start a healthcare blog for awhile, but just haven’t gotten around to it. You don’t know where to start. You’re too busy. Your dog ate your copy.

No more excuses. Let’s get going.

Here’s why: The point of starting a healthcare blog is to tell patients and prospective patients your story. A blog can differentiate you from the healthcare organization down the street. With your blog, you show how you care for patients. You can introduce current and new clients to your staff, your mission and the heart of your organization. Your blog can help humanize healthcare. You can show you’re a trusted source in the community.

Your blog can help humanize healthcare. You can show you’re a trusted source in the community.


Convinced yet?

Here’s more good news. Because you’re in healthcare, there are always great stories to tell.

But before you get started, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Start slowly

Before you launch your blog, make sure you’ve got at least three months of content. There’s nothing worse than launching a blog and having it flounder after a month. Give yourself time to create an editorial calendar and be realistic about how much you can publish each month.

Find your focus

Start a Healthcare Blog Focus
Photo: Elsie esq. Flickr via Compfight cc

Define the purpose of your blog.

  • What kinds of stories are you going to write?
  • What do you want people to know about your brand?
  • Why should someone read your blog?

Once you have the answers to these questions, think about blog topics that can be re-purposed easily into a newsletter or infographic. If you’re short-staffed, consider hiring a freelancer or intern for some writing help.

And remember, blogs don’t have to be dissertations.


When you first set up a blog, aim for 300 to 500 words for each blog post. If you’ve got some juicy topics, keep writing. But don’t write just to write. Write when you have something to say.

Look at your competition

Be sure to check out what your competition is doing. Snoop around. What do you like or not like about what they’re doing? Is there anything you think you could do better? Figure out how your healthcare organization will fill that void. For example, if everybody is writing about Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, do you really need to write about it, too? Or maybe you can offer a different perspective on the story.

Timeless ideas

Generating fresh topics each month can be tough. Keep some tried-and-true evergreen approaches in your back pocket, including:

  • Patient testimonials
  • Q&As with your doctors
  • Information about new treatments

And be sure to think about ways a blog post could be tied into a current event/timely topic. For example, if you’re a pediatrician and it’s September, you could write a blog post about the best after-school snacks for kids.

Engage your team

Your staff can be the best brand ambassadors for your blog. Each time you publish something, you could send out an email to your staff and ask them to share it on their personal LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. You can reward employees who share the most each month with special prizes or giveaways.
In addition, encourage your team to submit guest posts or give you topic ideas.

The elements of a great post

When you set up a blog post, remember the following:

  1. Make sure you have a great photo to go with the blog post. Skip those “grip-and-grin” photos of random Thinkstock people.
  2. Your headline must pull the reader in. If they’re not hooked, they won’t read it. Simple as that. For great headlines, think about incorporating numbers, “how-to’s” and asking engaging questions.
  3. Link to external sources throughout the blog.
  4. Subheads help make blog posts easier to scan — and therefore, more accessible — for readers.
  5. Include a call to action (CTA) at the end of each blog post

Keep promoting

Your blog won’t get traffic by just living on your website. You have to share it! Besides posting it on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, here are just a few other ways to repurpose your blog:

  • Newsletters
  • Whitepapers
  • Infographics
  • Direct mail
  • Columns for your local newspaper

Look at analytics

Now that you’re a publishing master and have set up a blog, don’t forget to keep track of how each blog post is performing. Are people commenting? Are they liking it? What trends are you seeing? If you write a 1,000-word post, how much time do people spend reading it? Once you follow your analytics closely, you’ll be able to better predict what people want to read about.