Why Healthcare Needs Culturally Forward Content

Being culturally forward is not something one naturally looks for in health content. 

Historically, health information has been reflective of the medical sciences: linear, factual, research based, doctor led, and textbooklike. While that may have worked in the past, health consumers in today’s world want more. Why? Because health, and relatedly, health content, are now a much more integrated part of our cultural fabric and everyday lives, and narrow definitions of physical health are no longer enough.

  • Health is broader. People now see health not just as sick care but as well care, taking health out of the hospital and into everyday life. As a result, health behaviors and attitudes have become dynamic, more reflective of cultural modulations, and flexible as life (and the world around us) changes. 
  • Content is care. Health information used to be an abstract nice-to-have addition to what your doctor says. Today, it plays a much more important role in people’s care and overall well-being. Health content has become most people’s first line of defense for health management and a legitimate part of the clinical care paradigm. 
  • Trust bubbles up. It used to be hard to find credible health content. Now all you need is a Google search. In this sea of commoditized content, writing that actually reflects what a human being needs, in a culturally appropriate way, stands out and lives on in impact. 

The only way health content can truly help people address their health needs and concerns is by understanding and tapping into their everyday lens: addressing real challenges, acknowledging real emotions, providing practical and realistic solutions, surfacing different perspectives and lived experiences, and using language that people can relate to.

Culturally Forward Content at Healthline Media

At Healthline, being culturally forward is an important brand differentiator. At the highest level, being culturally forward means three things:

  1. Staying informed and on top of cultural trends so that we can anticipate how and why consumer and corporate health behaviors are going to change.
  2. Understanding health attitudes of real people, evaluating commonalities and differences, and parsing out the mindsets of innovators and trendsetters. 
  3. Experimenting with ways to lead, guide, and shape the health subconscious so that our content can truly make a positive impact in people’s lives.

Operationalizing Cultural Trends in Content Development

Being mindful of cultural trends is a group effort. We read, observe, and intuit, then discuss what we’re learning regularly as a team. Our audience data and learnings directly inform our content strategy, style, and language guides so that we’re always best reflecting evolving human behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. 

Here are just a few examples of how we create culturally forward content in response to cultural trends:

Cultural Trend: Our Content: 
The new normal is that there’s no normal. What’s normal is changing.We always strike a balance between being authoritative with regard to the science and facts, and being proactively open in guiding people through different ways to interpret or act upon the science so that it works for them. 
We’re in a loneliness epidemic. People are alone, lonely, disconnected, and unhappy. 
We want people to feel seen and heard, so we acknowledge them with empathy and work hard to build an authentic, relevant tone of voice and style. 
Sound bites are stealing mindshare and compromising the integrity of content. We use conscious language in all of our content and only make sound bites out of sound science.
Even time-strapped people want to focus on their well-being. 
Our “whole person” approach to health focuses on not just the whole person (mind and body), but the reality of everything else that’s going on in their life that they exist in.

Organizational Practices 

So how do we do it? Being culturally forward is not an editing fix that we apply to our content. It starts with who we are and the purpose we serve, and is nurtured deliberately through many layers of organizational training, facilitation, caring, and corralling. 

From an organizational perspective, here are some of the practices we’ve adopted:

  1. Our editorial strategy is simple: to produce content that addresses real people’s health needs better than anything else available.
  2. Our editorial teams partner closely with our SEO team, so we can always be listening to what our audience wants.
  3. Our editorial teams also partner closely with our consumer insights team, so we can talk to our readers in person.
  4. All of our content is reviewed for medical accuracy by one of our 100 medical experts, who stand for fact, but also understand the importance of familiarity and connection.
  5. We train intensely and maintain extensive editorial guidelines that place integrity and empathy at the forefront.
  6. Lastly, our internal culture is forward thinking and highly progressive, with all team members internalizing our vision to be an integrated part of the fabric of society, so we can do our job of being a trusted ally and create a stronger and healthier world. 

As a result, each person involved in content creation at Healthline feels responsible for creating meaningful content experiences that resonate, inform and empower people to make better health decisions. 

And the stats show that this approach is making an impact. Our visitation and engagement numbers are rising when many others’ are falling. Our sponsors commend us on the quality of our content. And we hear from people every day about how we’ve enabled them to make positive changes that really made a difference to their health and quality of life.

If you want to learn more about Healthline Media’s culturally forward approach, please contact us at corpmarketing@healthline.com.


Tracy Stickler is SVP of Content at Healthline Media. For the past 10 years, she has committed herself to ensuring that the content being produced by Healthline (and more recently, its newer properties, Medical News Today and Greatist) is useful to readers and culturally on point.


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