Science is Beautiful Blog

The Rhetoric of Healthcare Reform and Healthcare Communications

Posted by Maureen Miller

Jul 31, 2009 1:12:00 PM

Last week, National Public Radio’s show “On the Media” discussed the language being used in the healthcare debate. Frank Luntz, communications consultant for the Republican party, shared tips from “The Language of Healthcare 2009: 10 rules for Stopping the ‘Washington Takeover’ of Healthcare,” a 28-page memo instructing the GOP on the best language to sway public opinion.

Both sides of the debate are utilizing highly potent words: “government takeover,” “rationed medicine,” and “ticking time bomb.”  Now, with little chance of movement until after the recess, politicians and stakeholders on both sides of the aisle have the month of August to continue stoking the heat on the healthcare reform debate.

As public relations professionals, we understand the importance of using language to drive awareness, change perceptions and influence behavior.  Words – beyond their denotations – are the most basic of the tools we use.  

Many in life sciences community will rely on the thorough review process of legal, medical and regulatory representatives to tone down or strengthen language as appropriate.  However, with the knowledge that comes from being a healthcare public relations professional, I believe we have a duty to communicate with honesty in all writing, before it even gets to our clients’ desks. 

Words carry weight. Acknowledge your influence, and use them responsibly.

--Maureen Miller

Topics: Healthcare communications, healthcare public relations, healthcare reform


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