Doctors, especially in India, are hard-pressed for time as they juggle between patients and administrative duties at work. But as practitioners, they also have a need to stay updated, so they can care for their patients based on current evidence and professional guidelines. Unfortunately, what they face mostly is a constant bombardment of material from all directions, vying for their attention, when what they really need is fast content that is both relevant and effective.
What are doctors looking for and how do you create content that really works for doctors?
At M3 India, this is a question we always keep at the forefront whenever we are planning content. Below are some pointers, in our experience, on what works for online content.
Focus on application vs. merely sharing information
Doctors are often flooded with research articles in various settings and contexts. However, the knowledge‐to‐action cycle needs to be completed with awareness, acceptance, and adoption by the practising doctor. Content that bridges this gap between academic knowledge and real-world application in practice is helpful as it makes a tangible impact on practice and treatments that patients receive.
In the current scenario, an already overburdened physician is left to figure out when and how to incorporate the research evidence to change in their practice. Also, it is important to bear in mind that Indian doctors see patients in very different socio-economic and cultural contexts vs. their global peers, so the content should be planned to keep in mind their unique needs.
Build credibility and trust
It is no surprise that doctors are overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of new clinical information that is available daily. Given the time constraints that a clinician faces, he/she must choose information efficiently in order to identify what is clinically relevant. Hence, it is critical that the quality of information furnished to busy clinicians is both credible and relevant.
Here are some ways of doing so:
- Inviting senior doctors and KOLs to write or talk to your audience. Senior doctors and KOLs are often the early adopters of new treatments and practice-changing guidelines. Having implemented this new paradigm in their practice, they can share practical pearls and experiences with the rest of the doctor community with a focus on real-life applications. This is also information that is highly specific and contextualised for a unique Indian setting.
- Source material from only the most reputable sources such as high-ranked peer-reviewed medical journals and always reference your article comprehensively. As an example, before doctors accept the findings of a clinical trial, they may want to understand the statistical validity of the results and the screening criteria for patients who were enrolled for the trials etc. Having a detailed list of references helps doctors retrieve this information.
- Finally, it is extremely important that you use correct English and grammar while creating your content. A poorly composed content filled with grammatical mistakes and typos shows a lack of attention to detail and signals an overall poor quality to the reader.
Hold their attention
It is important to bear in mind that doctors are humans too and like everyone else they are easily distracted by the constant buzz of notifications popping up on their mobile screens! They may be reading your content in between seeing patients, so it’s important to make the key points quickly to build their curiosity rather than bury them under lengthy blocks of text.
Here are important guidelines we follow:
- Introduce your key message early in the content to pique their curiosity and set the context.
- Use pictures, videos, infographics, and other rich media formats, wherever possible, to break the monotony of text.
- Limit your text articles to not more than 1000 to 1250 words. Have a story and break down the articles into meaningful sections to convey it coherently.
- Have a key takeaway always and a summary at the end for doctors who just want to scan and focus on the most important message.
Understand your audience and their needs
This final piece of advice holds good for all forms of communication and content for doctors is no exception. Doctors are different from other audiences and even among doctors, content needs can differ widely between say a General Practitioner and a Specialist.
- You can understand your audience in both implicit and explicit ways. An implicit way to gauge interest is to study what types of content are well received and draw inferences basis that.
- Data analytics plays a key role here and you can build a behaviour profile for your target doctors audience based on their past reading behaviour.
- You can also ask doctors explicitly via feedback forms or conduct short polls and surveys to seek direct opinions and plan your content accordingly.
Your content should focus on and address the need-gaps that already exist!
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