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8 Tips for Producing Compelling Patient Videos

In today’s digital world, video has become a powerful way to share and consume information. According to a Forrester report, “Optimizing video content is by far the easiest way to get a first-page organic ranking on Google. Having a video on your homepage can increase your ranking by 50x.”

A broad spectrum of Schwartz MSL’s clients are working with our digital production team to create a variety of videos that provide an added dimension to thought leadership, product/service offerings and customer testimonials.

Perhaps the most powerful use of video in consumer healthcare is the patient testimonial, which allows companies to tell a story that viewers can relate to. As patients and their loved ones become “empowered consumers” and take a more proactive role in managing their health, videos such as these provide valuable information and may help inform treatment decisions.

However, not all patient stories are alike. The most successful ones require thoughtful preparation and planning. Having produced dozens of these types of videos for our clients, we are pleased to offer the following tips for success:

Tell a Good Story
It may seem obvious, but if you’re not telling a good story, you may end up with the worst kind of video of all – a boring one.  There are many variables to consider – patient age, location, and cost – but they should rank a distant second to a compelling narrative.  Rather than ask the patient to look at the camera and simply recite their tale, develop a series of questions that will enable you to map out a story with a clear beginning, middle and most importantly, a happy ending. 

Use a Physician
Physician commentary is an important element of any patient video. A well-spoken doctor can properly position the impact of a medical condition on a person’s quality-of-life and provide a layman’s explanation of the benefits and side effects of a treatment.



Incorporate Emotion
Perhaps the biggest advantage that video has over the printed word is the ability to convey emotion and as storytellers, it is our responsibility to communicate that emotion. While a tearful sound byte may be the first thing that comes to mind, sometimes a hug from a co-worker can be just as powerful. Music can also help set the proper tone for the video.

Keep it Visual
The most effective patient videos incorporate a variety of visual elements beyond the sound bite. Relevant b-roll adds context to the sound bite and keeps the viewer engaged. Graphics and animation are also proven assets to create a visually appealing story.

Use the Proper Equipment
Today, anyone with a smartphone can record video and upload it to the internet. However, production values still matter. Resist the urge to film on the cheap. Hire an experienced production team or if you do it yourself, use a broadcast quality HD camera on a professional grade tripod. Don’t forget a clip-on and/or overhead microphone to ensure the best audio quality. And make sure to use proper lighting. Additional tricks of the trade: be sure to close the blinds if the patient is sitting near a window and bring a basic makeup kit to avoid undue glare on the patient’s head or face.

Stay On-Label
Imagine this scenario: you spent countless hours preparing for and producing a heartwarming patient video. You send the final version to the regulatory department for what should be an easy approval. However, you are horrified to discover that your physician made a claim about your product that is off-label. Even worse, the 17 year old patient who stole the show is one year younger than the indicated age on the labeling. Make sure this never happens to you by discussing all aspects of the video with your legal/regulatory officials prior to filming.

Script Efficiently
After filming is completed, it is a virtual certainty that you will have far more content than you will need. Using a transcription service will enable you to select relevant sound bites significantly faster than spending countless hours pouring through footage. Equally important in the scripting process is the identification of the proper visual elements (animation, graphics, b-roll) that can be used in conjunction with each sound bite. Waiting to select the visuals until after the sound bytes are laid out will extend the editing process considerably.

Use an Experienced Editor
Much like a top-flight chef can create an exquisite meal with just a handful of simple ingredients, a proficient editor can turn a good video into a powerful, visually stimulating story by adding creative touches that can only be picked up through years of experience. Be sure that your editor uses cutting-edge software programs such as Avid or Final Cut.

Check out the video below, which incorporates many of these helpful hints. The story chronicles Warren, a Long Island prostate cancer patient, as he undergoes 5 days of treatment with the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System (from client Accuray).


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Jon Siegal

Jon Siegal

Account Director (Healthcare) at MSLGROUP

With nearly 18 years of PR experience, Jon is an account director in MSLGROUP’s Boston healthcare practice.

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