A successful publishing strategy for medical device companies must express nuanced ideas, on schedule — while adhering to stringent regulation and appealing to multiple audiences with divergent interests.
A viable publishing strategy for medical devices needs to do two things in order to work effectively:
1. Facilitate low-friction and speedy information flow and regulatory compliance.
2. Speak to several audiences with radically different informational needs, e.g. physicians and patients, in a language that they understand.
Here’s a window into the strategy we use to achieve these objectives.
Process, Pipeline and FDA Approval
A strong editorial pipeline facilitates effective publishing for all our clients. It is especially important for clients who specialize in medical devices. These clients need us to synthesize highly specific and exact information — any errors or omissions will halt the storytelling process in its tracks.
Meanwhile, these clients need to secure FDA approval for any and all messaging, including brand publishing. Usually our main point of contact at a client is that business’ marketing lead. In medical devices, the marketing lead needs to clear everything with the company’s compliance experts who ensure that our work doesn’t deviate from the messaging for which they’ve secured FDA approval.
As such, medical devices clients need a publishing pipeline that, firstly, facilitates unimpeded information flow, allowing us to learn the facts quickly and requiring as little effort as possible on the part of the client. Meanwhile, given the additional approval stages, the pipeline must be set up such that all team members are alerted immediately when their input is needed, eliminating uncertainty and wasted time on the part of decision-makers who are in high demand.
Our solution relies on one of our favorite tools, Trello. As I described in my article on editorial pipelines, Trello is linear and task-based: a piece of content such an article begins as an idea, moving through the necessary stages to become a published piece.
In our typical medical device pipeline, Trello automatically emails our client’s marketing lead when an article is ready for approval. They can then approve the piece, make changes, or ask us for updates, after which point the appropriate party transfers the article to the regulatory approval column. Again, Trello informs the relevant decision-maker immediately when this happens so they can upload the article to their approval database, whereupon the compliance team does its work.
When the content passes approval, our team is informed automatically, and launches the process of publishing the article and promoting it on social media. Thus, we streamline what risks becoming a convoluted and time-consuming process, allowing us to maintain publishing cadence despite the regulatory burden.
The Split Audience Strategy
Our medical devices clients need to engage a disparate base of customers and prospects and appeal to a variety of informational needs. This varies from client to client, but the most obvious example would be a medical devices company that needs to appeal both to patients and to physicians. Obviously, these groups are motivated by radically different concerns.
Usually our approach is to create distinct brand publications and website areas, designed specifically for the audience in question.
For example, the patient-facing publication showcases people, and how our clients’ devices have saved and enriched their lives. It addresses concerns about the device in question, while answering common questions, especially regarding insurance and costs. Of course, we express this information in regular English and utilize engaging mediums like graphic design and video to capture the reader’s time and attention.
Conversely, we ensure that a physician-facing publication speaks to the needs of physicians, providing clinical outcomes, results data, and the specific medical information they need in order to make a decision. Meanwhile, we explore in detail and describe in medical language the conditions that particular devices treat.
Fundamentally, patients have little concern for the specifics of surgery or etiology, and risk being put off by these details — but these specifics are fundamental to a physician’s decision-making process.
This strategy also adheres to Google’s guidelines: Google promotes sites that are well-organized, with relevant information interlinked and nested within a logical folder-structure. As such, patients and physicians should have their own folder, where information that is relevant to them is located (for example, device.com/patients/blog and device.com/physicians/blog).
Building this separation will, meanwhile, make it less likely that one audience finds the other’s content via Google search. This is because one part of the site is optimized for physician-relevant language and technical terms, while the patient area is optimized for layman’s terms and human interest.
Medical devices companies are poised to benefit from brand publishing perhaps more than most, as patients and physicians demand rich information and detail on their devices. Brand publishing, because it is continuous and long-form, allows for this level of detail. As such, it pays to lay the groundwork for a long-term publishing strategy that overcomes the difficulties inherent to the highly regulated medical devices space.