Why printed brochures and leaflets still have valuable roles to play in healthcare.

Yes, brochure copywriting is still alive and well!

Whether you’re communicating to healthcare professionals (HCPs), patients, carers or the general public, there are  certain messages best conveyed by a printed sales aid, brochure, leaflet or card — or a PDF that can be printed out. I often help clients with dosage cards, instructions in how to enrol patients in clinical studies and compassionate access schemes.

Printed pieces for HCPs

The most widely-used print pieces in healthcare are sales aids, leave pieces, clinical paper holders and materials for the HCP to distribute to patients.

Sales (detail) aids

For a long time sales aids were the central piece of a promotional campaign for a medicine or medical device. The sales rep would use them to ‘detail’ (sell) the product to the HCP. Some were ‘permanent’ pieces carried by the rep and others were designed to be left with the HCP. Many companies now use electronic e-detailers instead, but printed sales aids are an economical alternative.

Leave pieces

A leave piece for an HCP campaign is usually designed to summarise what was discussed on the representative’s visit. It’s usually a short piece ranging in size from a 2-sided card to a piece with 2 or 3 folds.

As with all promotional items, the claims on a leave piece need to be verified and supported by peer-reviewed clinical studies. Local mandatories are also required, depending on the market.

In creating your printed leave piece, it makes sense to follow the theme of your main promotional campaign, so that your leave piece reminds the HCP of the campaign

Tip: Make your leave piece more useful by adding information the HCP would be likely to refer back to, such as dosage information, clinical guidelines or practical information about how to treat the particular condition.

Dosage cards

Particularly with a new drug or a new indication, a dosage card can help the busy HCP to quickly check the right dose for the patient. It’s often worth laminating a dosage card or printing it on thicker card so that it gives it more of a ‘worth keeping’ look.

Clinical paper holders

This piece is usually a 4-page folder with a flap to hold a print-out of a clinical paper. The piece itself is usually a little larger than A4. It features the main points from the clinical study and because of its size, it can usually include a summary of the main selling points about the product.

Clinical study enrolment, patient support programs and compassionate access pieces

These are specialised pieces that help the HCP to directly enrol — or refer the patient for enrolment — in a clinical study, patient support program or compassionate access scheme. It is critical that the content is clear, accurate and code compliant. While enrolment is often done online now, a printed piece may be preferred, especially where both patient and HCP need to fill in details.

Leaflet for Gastrolyte
Carer leaflet

Patient leaflets

HCPs appreciate having a supply of leaflets for patients explaining a medical condition and the recommended treatment. A patient leaflet must simplify technical concepts into simple patient-friendly language. Bear in mind that the patient may not have English as a first language, so make sure your patient leaflet is written in plain English.

Depending on the condition, it may be appropriate to add an FAQ section and a list of local support groups.

Tip: It’s a good idea to leave a space on the back of the patient leaflet for the HCP to add notes.
Waiting room leaflets

You’ve probably noticed the racks of leaflets found in many waiting rooms, alerting patents about common but under-diagnosed conditions and urging them to ask the doctor about their concerns during the consultation.

These are ‘DTC’ or ‘direct-to-consumer’ leaflets They often form part of a larger DTC promotion which may include surgery posters, outdoor posters, social media ads, TV commercials and YouTube ads, (to give a few examples). DTC campaigns have a different set of rules around what can be mentioned and what the call-to-action should be.

Carer leaflets

These pieces are designed to help the carer or family member of a person with a serious or chronic condition to manage the patient. Simple, practical information will be valued as well as advice about what do if the patient’s condition changes.

2 things to consider before embarking on your printed piece:
  1. Cost. Print pieces can vary a lot in cost, depending on a number of factors such as size, quantity, special inks, special sizes, special paper/card, special finishes and whether hand work is required. Make sure you get a firm quote up front and get the printer to specify what form of artwork he or she requires. Be clear about the delivery address and how you want the pieces packed.
  2. Time. When you’re accustomed to the speed of getting a digital piece up and running, you need allow for the fact that that print can take time. The printing press needs to be set up for your job. Inks need to dry, paper needs to be folded and packed. More complex print jobs involving multiple colours, special finishes, or large print runs can require additional setup time and coordination, potentially leading to longer lead times compared to simpler print jobs.

Where to start with getting your brochure written and designed

I can help you with the writing part, and I can recommend a designer with the skills to design the piece and produce the artwork. Together we can produce a professional-looking piece that fits in with your brand image and clearly states the selling messages.

Tip:  If you’re not confident dealing with printers, (and they can be tricky) I recommend using a print broker or print management company who can simplify the process.

Let’s talk about the items you’re considering for your next campaign.