Consumer Health Information Corporation President Dorothy L. Smith, PharmD., wrote the lead article in the May 2002 issue of the European Society of Clinical Pharmacy's Newsletter. The society is based in Brussels, Belgium.
Writing on the topic, "Patient Education: A Critical Component of Pharmaceutical Care," Dr. Smith observed that, "Health professionals and pharmaceutical companies can dedicate significant amount of time and money to the development of patient education programs but their efforts will be wasted if the patient information does not meet the needs of the patient."
She noted that her company had more than 20 years of actual face-to-face clinical experience in counseling patients about their medications. "That experience has given us insights into the mind of the consumer and patients--for instance, why they make the decisions they do and why they follow or do not follow instructions," she wrote. "It also helps us develop and present patient information that consumer and patients can understand and use in making correct decisions about their therapy and disease management."
Dr. Smith said the key to successful patient education programs is to recognize that patients make three critical decisions that will determine how effective their drug therapy will be:
- The patient decides whether or not to take the medicine prescribed initially. As many as 10% to 20% of all initial prescriptions are never filled because patients are not convinced they need the medication.
- The patient decides whether or not to refill the prescription. 30% to 85% of patients do not get their refills. They quit because they decide the side effects are too annoying, the drug is not working, or they forget to get their refill.
- The patient decides how and when to take the medicine and what to do if they think they are developing a side effect. At least 50% of the people who do get the prescription filled do not take it correctly. This means the drug cannot be maximally effective.
Before starting to develop editorial content or design for a patient education project, "it is essential to identify all the potential patient compliance problems patients can expected to encounter in 'real life' situations," Dr. Smith said. "This stage--too often neglected in developing patient information materials--is based on practical experience as well as research that has been conducted on the specific disease, the drug, and the target population."
"Similarly," she continued, "we identify the barriers that health professionals can be expected to encounter in their clinical practice when they are answering patient questions or attempting to use patient compliance tools."
Finally, Dr. Smith said, "we identify and apply behavior modification techniques (based on the Transtheoretical Model of Change) that recognize the need for patients to receive different types of information at each stage of their decision-making process."
About Consumer Health Information Corporation
Consumer Health Information Corporation was founded by Dorothy L. Smith, Pharm.D, an internationally recognized clinical pharmacist with expertise in patient adherence and patient education. The mission of Consumer Health Information Corporation is to help patients learn how to manage their diseases and prescribed treatments safely and wisely. The company has developed more than 4000 evidence-based patient education programs for medications, medical devices, disease management and Phase III clinical trials worldwide. A respected clinical and educational source, Consumer Health Information Corporation has won major national and international awards for excellence in patient and consumer education programs that have significantly increased patient adherence. Dr. Smith is the author of more than 130 professional articles, 23 books and has delivered more than 150 professional and scholarly addresses.
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Experts in Patient Education and Adherence Since 1983
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