April 9, 2013

8 words and phrases health care communicators should outlaw

It’s time to stop utilizing.

It’s time to stop utilizing.

You see them all the time. Predictable, cliché, meaningless words that just fill space. They’re in nine out of ten health care ads. As a writer, they drive me insane. Here’s an irritating eight we can all do without.

State of the art: What exactly does that mean? Whose state are we talking about? And what art is this that has a state?

Utilization: Whatever happened to plain, old-fashioned “use.” Perfectly good word. Three letters. Says the same thing. Think about it.

Innovation: What exactly is the innovation? Why can’t you tell me what it is? Do I have to guess? Are you afraid to let me know because I will be so amazed I will fling my clothes into the wind in wild abandon, run down the street naked, crying tears of joy and amazement?

Cutting edge: This one’s my favorite. Especially when it’s used to describe surgery. Can’t you just forget about giving me the adjective and give me the details? Grrrrrr.

Nationally renowned: Says who? What nation? What body of wisdom and all suck-up-to-it-ness did we impress? What does that have to do with little old me, who needs a hospital and doctor who understand what I need?

Patient-focused: Well for heaven’s sake. I should hope so. You are, after all, in the business of treating patients. Duh.

Forward-thinking: Is that as opposed to backward thinking? How forward are you? Five years? Light years? Hello.

Board-certified: This is usually accompanying the word “doctor.” To which, most people ask, “Aren’t all doctors board certified?” Does this mean not all of your doctors have passed their exams and are operating on me without getting the official okie-dokie from the AMA?

Instead of these, how about using words that give details that are real, honest and meaty? OK. Maybe meaty’s not the right word. But you get the idea. It’s just one woman’s cause to eradicate ersatz and substitute it with eloquence. At least it’s worth a try.

This article was originally featured in Ragan’s Health Care Communication News

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