Patient Education Vol4 No3


By Dr. Dorothy L. Smith

Expert in safe medication use, author of 23 books for consumers on prescription drugs, and President of Consumer Health Information Corporation.

Improving Profits by Informing Patients

Vol. 4 No. 3

peu_smith2Dr. Dorothy L. Smith is an internationally recognized expert in patient education, patient compliance, and behavior modification programs. She has devoted her career to helping people make informed decisions about health care and use of medications. Dr. Smith is the author of 23 books and has appeared on radio and television programs across the country to increase awareness of the important role consumers play in their prescription drug therapy.

In 1983, she founded Consumer Health Information Corporation, a company internationally recognized for its innovative patient information programs. The organization has produced a broad range of print and audiovisual programs that have helped millions of people learn to make wise decisions about their health and medications. The company is a teaching site for several schools of pharmacy across the United States and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council on Patient Information and Education.

The consumer will be the final judge of all the patient communication materials you produce for them. If you can develop information that is written in language that patients can understand and incorporates behavior modification techniques, you will be able to convince the patient that the information is important to their own personal health. Patients will start taking their medications correctly. The health care system will start working as it should .. and I can guarantee that the product’s ROI will increase because patients will not drop out of therapy and will refill their prescriptions.


Patient Compliance Can Cut Clinical Efficacy in Half Many patients have never considered that the efficacy of their prescription medications will decrease if they do not take the medication correctly. For example, if a medication is 90% effective in treating a condition, but the patient takes only 50% of the prescribed number of doses, the efficacy or “usefulness” of that medication falls to 45%.

When patients receive information they can believe and understand, they start to take their medications correctly and refill their prescriptions on time. Your product gets the chance to demonstrate its effectiveness.

For more on how patient compliance affects your ROI, click here.

Readability Is Only the First Part of the Equation


A common misconception that many product managers have is that they think the most important goal in developing patient materials is to get the readability level down to the grade 6-8 level. But getting the readability down to this level is no guarantee the consumer will be able to understand it.

One of the examples I use to describe the difference between readability and comprehension is the recommendation sometimes given to a patient to “avoid eating red meat.” While “red meat” is a phrase that would pass a readability test at the grade 4 level, it still will not be understood by many consumers.

Why? Many consumers simply don’t know which meats are classified as “red meat”. After all, once red meat is cooked, it is no longer red. The product team needs to make sure that consumers know which meats they are talking about. There are many more examples of seemingly simple terms that will not be understood by patients unless they are clearly explained.

The point is that there is a vast difference between readability and comprehension. We have to remember that it’s more complicated than just using short words.

Consumer Health Information Corporation’s Expertise in Patient Communications


Developing messages for consumers and patients on medications requires a very specialized blending of medical information, regulatory requirements, marketing techniques, health literacy principles, patient compliance strategies, and behavior modification techniques… then translating everything into language the average consumer can understand … and reinforcing it with an effective “patient-friendly” design.

Even though a DTC campaign or a patient information program has met all the requirements of the company’s clinical, marketing, legal and regulatory teams as well as the FDA regulations, it can NEVER be maximally effective if the consumer does not understand the information.

Consumer Health Information Corporation’s experts in patient compliance and consumer behavior know how to develop “consumer-friendly” materials that motivate patients to take the medication correctly. Only then can the product fulfill its potential.

Click here to see why we’re unique.


Consumer Health Information Corporation is an internationally recognized leader in the development and production of patient education programs for pharmaceutical companies, managed care organizations, and consumers.

Consumer Health Information Corporation (703) 734-0650 | Fax (703) 734-1459

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