Hispanics, Hospitals, and Health Care: Does Your Website Copy Speak to Latinos?

To write copy that resonates with a particular audience, you need to speak the audience's language. We explain why healthcare copy fails to win over the Latino community—and how it can be better.

hispanic health care marketing
Empathy is first step to attracting Hispanic patients.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, MarketSmiths has authored a four-part series on Hispanics in the marketplace. Below is Part 4 of the series. Additional series topics include: Latino market trends; Hispanic consumer myths that are hurting your marketing strategy; and how to write copy that connects with Hispanic readers.

“How do I reach the Hispanic audience?” It’s a question that, as a marketing writer, I hear every day. Lately, it’s coming more and more often from health care providers.

The reasons for the question are simple: Hispanic families are younger and larger so they require more ongoing treatment; Hispanics generally trust large, established institutions with name recognition; and Hispanics rely on technology to acquire health care information more than any other consumer demographic. Hispanics, thus, represent a profitable growth market for hospitals and other health service agents.

The answer to the question is less simple. The good news, however, is that all of the factors for creating healthcare content—from website copy and social media posts, to newsletters and pamphlets—that resonates with Latinos are actually one single strategy manifested in multiple tactics. That strategy? Speak the language of Latinos.

By ‘language’ I don’t mean Spanish language. Rather, I mean the culture of Latinos. Hispanic health care content must address the traditions, heritage, and medical concerns of the community, many of which are different from that of the general market. For example:

  1. Many Latinos are uncomfortable with the American style of doctor/patient interaction. They require more time with a physician before opening up with questions and concerns.
  2. Hispanic culture emphasizes privacy and pride. Thus, Hispanics are less likely to proactively seek health care.
  3. Many Hispanic immigrants have difficulty navigating health insurance (because health care is government-run in Latin America).
  4. Historically, Hispanics show a strong preference for non-Western medical treatment. Forty-five percent rely on home remedies, and 72% never use prescription drugs.

Identifying these distinctions is the first step toward connecting with Latino consumers. Creating copy that addresses them is the second step. Here are a few tips for doing so:

Speak in plain English

A 2018 study conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that 6 out of 10 Latinos have had a difficult time communicating with a health care provider because of a language or cultural barrier. One respondent said that he regularly struggles to understand the medical terms used by doctors and nurses. “When I tell them I don’t understand them,” he says, “they’ll bring someone over to speak to me in Spanish and I don’t understand them, either.”

The takeaway here is to write healthcare copy in language that is approachable. It’s easier to understand and way less scary. (This tip holds true for non-Latinos, too, who also report being confused by medical jargon.)

Write for the ages

Typically, it’s second- and third-generation Latinos who are making decisions about their extended family’s medical and health needs. Says Emily McLintock, creative director at TED and the former head of marketing at Latina Media Ventures, “Brands are going to have to realize that marketing to the Hispanic audience depends on the generation.”

Lifestyle blogger and TV host, Evette Rios, agrees. She says that acculturated Latinos, defined as second- and third-generation Latinos born in the U.S., live in two distinct worlds. There’s the old world, which she says emphasizes “faith, humility, hard work, and honor,” and a more modern world that values “self, ego, wealth, consumerism, and individuality.” She adds, “It pulls us in completely different directions and makes large decisions difficult because we have so many opposing values to reconcile.”

The takeaway here is to write relatable content that incorporates elements of both traditional and modern Latino culture.

Don’t forget the (not so) small stuff

You might think that things like food and religion aren’t relevant to health care copywriting. Think again. Roughly 30% of Latinos say they are concerned about finding long-term care providers who can prepare the kind of food they are used to, and many worry about finding nursing homes and assisted-living facilities that respect their religious or spiritual beliefs.

These apprehensions reflect a need that hasn’t been filled; specifically, health care services that incorporate Latino preferences, and health care copywriting that conveys these services are available.

Get happy

A 2015 Gallup poll showed Latin American countries are among the happiest places on earth. Observers attribute this positivity to strong family bonds and a deep connection to nature. There is, says writer Rich Basas, “a culture in Latin America that does not promote negativity with every aspect of life.” He points out that having a strong support network of family and friends leaves “no room to seek out the worst-case scenario.”

It’s this optimistic paradigm that might explain why 33% of Hispanics claim their health is excellent most of the time and 42% haven’t visited a doctor in the last year. Hispanics, in fact, are the least likely racial or ethnic group to visit physicians. Addressing this in the content you write for Hispanics encourages your audience to seek regular treatment and signals that you are dialed into their approach to health care.

Highlight relevant care categories

Latinos, like all racial and ethnic groups, have higher incidences of certain diseases and lower incidences of others. Examples, according to U.S. Census Reports, include a higher rate of obesity among Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites, and a disproportionate number of asthma sufferers among Puerto Ricans. Writing health care copy that engages Hispanic consumers can sometimes be as simple as speaking with sensitivity to their concerns around these illnesses.

Do all of the above successfully and you’ll gain the trust and win the business of Hispanic consumers.

For help crafting healthcare copy that resonates with Latinos, get in touch today.

Amanda Cargill

Amanda Cargill

Amanda Cargill is a Brooklyn-based writer, video producer, and marketing communications strategist specializing in food, travel, culture and lifestyle content in domestic, multicultural, and international markets.

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