PIF Member of the Month – January 2019

Laura Blanks – Specialist Health Editor, Bupa

Laura Blanks photo

What is your current role and what do you enjoy about it?

I’m a Specialist Health Editor at Bupa leading on all things quality for our team. I manage our user feedback, conduct quarterly internal audits and make sure that our production processes and documents are up to date and working well. As well as writing and reviewing content for our online directory of health topics, I also work with clinical experts from around the business to create engaging content for our wellbeing platform. I studied biomedical science at university, but have always been more enthusiastic about communicating science and health than being in the lab – too many petri dishes and PCR tubes in there for me!

What I love most about health content and my role is that I’m continually researching and learning about new things in the health and wellbeing space. I’m presented each day with the unique challenge of processing information from high-level sources into a language and format that is accessible to our audience.

What is the key area you are working on at the moment?

At the moment (and amongst lots of other things) I’m working on an information page on gender dysphoria. I’m really hoping to enhance the content offering with this piece by including personal stories and using several different content formats, such as podcasts and videos.

I’m also in the midst of preparing for our annual freelancer workshop where our in-house editorial team and network of freelance editors get together for a day of getting stuck in with different challenges, sharing best practice and listening to our in-house experts as they present on things like behaviour change and user experience (UX).

What’s your biggest health information challenge?

I suppose when you sit down to think about it, there are actually quite a few. But one that particularly stands out to me is the challenge of making sure that you are exactly where your audience needs you. This could be on social media or in the waiting room of a clinic, for example.

Making it as easy as possible for your audience to access health information at the exact moment that they need it is really important. But on a practical level, with limited time (and budget) it can be easy to push this aside and get bogged down by the regular maintenance of your content offering.

What’s the best bit about working in health information?

For me it’s definitely the variety. One day you could be reviewing a topic on diverticular disease and the next you could be writing an article around how to help shy and socially anxious individuals in the workplace. You just never know what’s coming next.

I also take pride in the fact that health information plays an important role in helping people to safeguard their health and wellbeing. It provides them with all the information they need to make important decisions about their health, both now and in the future.

What do you find useful about being a PIF member?

I really enjoy attending the PIF events. They provide a great opportunity to see what others are working on, including their approach to certain projects and reflections. They are, of course, also a great way to network with others working in the health information space.

I also really value being part of a wider community, which you can call on for input and advice if you happen to run into a problem or unknown territory.

What top tip do you have to share on health information?

You can’t be everything to everyone! I think it’s really important to acknowledge this early on. You need to establish the goal of your health information or the platform you’re using and, when it comes to individual pieces of content, keep in sight who you’re writing for. Let insights guide you and think hard about what you want the content to achieve before you jump in.

And remember, no one knows all the answers. The health information landscape is always changing and you’ll continually need to adapt and develop your ways of working to meet new demands. I’m also a strong believer that we work better together than we do apart and that you should never be embarrassed to get a second pair of eyes on your work. A different perspective and feedback from your peers is invaluable – it helps you to develop and grow, so use it!