Doctor, Doctor, I’m suffering from ‘writer’s block’

Patient visits GP surgery: “Doctor, Doctor I think I’m suffering from writer’s block.” Doctor replies: “I really want to help you, but to be honest I’m all words.”

Jokes about writer’s block aren’t funny because…er, something…well, you know. On a more serious note, for those of you who aren’t aware, ‘writer’s block’ is associated with an author’s inability to produce new work. Bloggers, copywriters, and editors alike will all at some point come across a project or piece that they just can’t get started.

As I pondered over what to write my blog about this week, I started to reel through a few subjects in my head, namely the impending final wave of CCGs and how social media can aid patient feedback, neither of which filled me with the immediate enthusiasm I needed to put together a decent piece. Was I suffering from writer’s block? Then it struck me, I’ll write about writing!

In the ever-changing national healthcare service, there is no shortage of content to form an opinion on. Healthcare affects each and every one of us, through a multitude of experiences.

The impact of IT is far less obvious than that of frontline interactions such as reviewing whether the consultant made the right call on your knee operation or whether the three hour wait in A&E met or exceeded your expectations. There is information behind decisions and processes behind waiting times that affect these outcomes.

The challenge for marketing professionals in the healthcare IT space isn’t anything new. It’s about communicating messages within a complex industry in a simple manner. Take a Patient Administration System (PAS); the functionality lets users book appointments, manage waiting lists, record patient activity, and much more. Who cares? It’s a serious question.

Good copywriting takes into account your target audience, their needs, motivations and ultimately what is going to grab their attention. The right messages need to go to the right people, which is often tricky when considering the different decision makers in trusts, CCGs, and CSUs.

This is where the creative part, that sometimes causes what people perceive as ‘writer’s block’, kicks in. Where to start? To be creative, you need to have elements and influences to be creative with. Starting with a blank piece of paper isn’t the answer, you need information, and we’re not just talking about content here. There are many wider considerations such as brand values, tone of voice, but most importantly how the copy fits within a marketing strategy. Looking at the bigger picture allows writers to focus on the writing element in context.

Stepping back to the PAS example, there are obvious benefits including time efficiencies, quicker access to information, leading to more efficient and effect care in addition to cost savings. But how do you differentiate supplier A from supplier B to give them a competitive advantage? Is it an aggressive sales approach or is raising the company’s profile the priority? All good questions which need answers.

So the next time you need to get some words down on paper and notice symptoms such as mass-procrastination, frustration and the odd ‘head in hands’ moment, think how far some further research will go. Get your inspiration from anywhere you can: client calls, web pages, business plans, marketing strategies. After all, writing clear, concise and meaningful copy isn’t easy. And before you know it you’ll type up 560 words. All cured!

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