creative haberdashery

5 healthcare marketing buzzwords you probably want to avoid


The ubiquitous healthcare stock photo. Overused buzzwords are as trite as this image. 1985 called. They want their X-Ray back.

Healthcare is like any other business, with words and catchphrases that are so overused, they’re meaningless. I run into these tired words consistently; their use is often mandated by the client because they are part of their mission statement/vision statement/tagline/internal mantra . . . well, you get the idea.

The good folks in healthcare have great love for these words. They mean something to them. They might even identify with them and believe they provide a real point of difference in their highly competitive world. That may be true — but it’s not the word providing the point of differentiation — it’s the concept.

Our job is to communicate ideas; to provide words and images that are so rich, they resonate with the consumer’s understandable emotional need to trust their healthcare providers. Whether you’re an account exec, agency owner, graphic designer, content provider, social media expert or internal marketing director, it’s your responsibility to steward your client to a solution that will communicate difference without communicating sameness.

1. Accredited.


A small sample of the dozens of medical accreditations listed on Wikipedia. And this is just one category.

Let’s get real. There are scores of healthcare-related accreditations out there, most with acronym-heavy labels that mean nothing to consumers. And boy, have healthcare businesses have gotten busy with them. They send out press releases, they put them on websites with logos and no links. Accreditations can be quite difficult(and expensive) to earn, so wanting to say, “We did it; you can trust us!” is understandable. But it’s not enough to say you did it. You have to say why you did it and more importantly, why it matters.

 2. Compassionate/Caring.

Compassion is giving. Compassion is selfless. Compassion is . . . expected from healthcare, as is Caring. I’ve worked with dozens of healthcare providers and absolutely none of them pointed at a competitor and said, “Not compassionate or caring.” They have great respect for their colleagues, and rightly so. Now, the healthcare entity — the corporation — may not be viewed as compassionate and caring, but that’s very different from 1:1 caregiver: patient compassion. Show–don’t tell–the reasons why compassion and caring makes a difference in your organization.

3. Close to home.

Genesis Print Ad Garret copy

This close to home message gets to the heart of what a local care facility means to this small town. It was shot at recognizable locations with real patients.

Local hospitals are, by their very proximity, close to home. What this phrase is actually trying to capture is the idea of quality healthcare, available locally. For many common procedures or therapies, there’s no need to travel to some big, urban center for treatment. So why does being close to home matter? Every community is unique. Find those touchpoints and you have something that really communicates. Our campaign for Genesis Healthcare System is one example of how that might work.



4. Quality.

Talk about a concept that varies widely in its interpretation! You can buy a quality used car  at the lot on the corner or a or a quality new car from a luxury manufacturer. Quality, obviously, is very much in the eye of the beholder. And when it comes to healthcare, what exactly does quality mean? (See accreditation.) More importantly, what’s in it for the consumer? Show what you mean by the concept of quality. The actual word itself is just taking up space.

5. Cutting edge/world class/leading edge/state-of-the-art.


When you talk about new technology, I beg you, do NOT use the words “cutting edge.” You can see why.

New and sexy technology is a fact of life in healthcare as well as in smartphones. And just as with smartphones, demonstrating why technology matters is the key to effective communication. The da Vinci(r) Surgical System is a big, scary-looking robot machine with a nightmare of pincer-like appendages that make you think “alien abduction.” It’s the human benefits–like quicker healing and smaller incisions that lead to the real messaging: the da Vinci can help you get back to your life, faster.

If you work in healthcare marketing, I’m betting you have a few overused trend words of your own.Please share.

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cindi acker-hein

cindi acker-hein

writer + creative partner
I love my work: teaming up with awesome creatives. Word nerdery. Problem solving. Simplifying. Intelligenting. Learning. Seeking FTA, SOH, PR.Read more...


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