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Posted on 07.15.2014

5 Tips for Healthcare Communicators

After almost six months at Lovell, I have a few tips to help you avoid some of the most common mistakes when writing about healthcare. These 5 tips will make sure you don’t have a silly slip up that could cost the client money and you embarrassment.

Healthcare, Health Care, Health-Care...

While there is absolutely no difference in the definition of healthcare, health care or health-care, there are plenty of different views and opinions. Most clients will have a style they prefer, so Listen to your audience and be consistent.  For the purpose of this blog, I am going with "healthcare."

Correct Degree Recognition

"Let's check AP style for that" is a common phrase in our office. Here are AP style guidelines for proper degree recognition. From my experience so far, knowing them by heart is a great idea.

Medical Doctor - M.D. (has periods)

Master in Business Administration - MBA (does not)

Spell out Registered Nurse on first usage and RN after (no periods)

Spell out Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN), Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and any other less common title on first use and use acronyms on second reference

Remember, these people spent time, money and energy to have these letters by their names. Be sure to get it right!

Doctor vs. Physician?

Proper recognition is very important to medical professionals and the healthcare industry. While there are many types of doctors, those of the medical variety deserve special recognition. A physician is a person who is trained in the art of healing while "doctor" can be someone who is awarded a doctoral degree in another field. Be sure to make the differentiation clear through the use of M.D., PhD or the proper medical suffix.

What's up...Doc?

Introducing a physician in a press release or document can be tricky. Let's say I gave up my PR career, went to medical school and you were asked to write a press release announcing my new position as Dr. Leslie D. Raney. How would you introduce me?

Here is how to properly introduce a physician in writing:

First reference : Leslie D. Raney, M.D. - Full name, followed by M.D.

Subsequent references: Dr. Raney - Last name only (no firsts!)

Why is everyone talking about HIPPOS?

Oh you mean HIPAA...

HIPAA is one of the most commonly misspelled acronyms in healthcare lexicon. HIPAA is short for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. When talking about this hot topic, thinking about the acronym before you type may help you avoid this common mistake.

The correct guidelines and accepted practices are always changing, so be sure to stay informed and, when in doubt, check the AP style guide!


Leslie Raney is an Assistant Account Executive at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Leslie’s blogs here. Connect with Leslie at leslie@lovell.com, or @lesliedr.

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