Patient Education Vol2 No1


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. 2 No. 1

peu_smith2 Dr. 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.

What Every Marketing Manager Should Know:

  • Medications with a higher incidence of adverse effects will be more likely to result in higher levels of noncompliance, indirectly raising overall healthcare costs.

  • 10% of all prescriptions are never filled—and patients often make that decision right in the doctor’s office. Doctors need counseling tools to convince patients to fill prescriptions for your product.

  • 33% of all prescriptions are never refilled because patients decide they don’t want to continue taking the medication. Your marketing plan should include a refill compliance program.

  • About 50% of medications actually taken are not used correctly. This limits the chance your product will be successful.

To request a complimentary copy of Dr. Smith’s remarks, “Consumers Hold the Key to Controlling Health Care Costs,” presented at the conference, “Prescription Drugs – Who Pays?” please call (703) 734-0650.

  • Middle-aged men who have a hopeless outlook on life show a greater increase in hardening of the arteries than those with a more hopeful attitude.

  • Fewer then a third of parents in a study knew the correct dose of a liquid OTC medication to give their child. And only 28% of the parents knew OTC’s could have side effects.

  • Following an apparent drug induced seizure, it was found a baker had become addicted to a tea brewed with poppy seeds. Records showed the bakery’s order of poppy seeds had increased eightfold as his consumption increased.

Are You Letting Patients Play Russian Roulette With Your Product?>

All of the costs involved in getting a medication to market are on the line the moment the doctor puts the prescription in the patient’s hand.

peu_smith Dr. Dorothy L. Smith

At that point—for better or worse—the patient takes control of the therapy, making the key decisions that determine whether a medication will be effective.

That was the message from Consumer Health Information Corporation President, Dr. Dorothy L. Smith, addressing top healthcare decision-makers representing the pharmaceutical industry, government, managed care, insurers, and employers.

Dr. Smith said patients carefully weigh the risks of taking a drug against the benefits. Because they don’t know how to manage side effects appropriately, many patients will just stop taking the medication

“This is why a newer and more expensive medication with a lower incidence of side effects is often more cost-effective than an older drug having more side effects.”

“If a patient stops taking an antihypertensive drug because of the side effects and ends up in the emergency room, the cost savings of the less expensive drug are wiped out.”

Successful product managers don’t gamble in their marketing plans. They make sure patients know how to manage common side effects. Consumer Health Information Corporation has 20 years of experience in developing programs (meeting FDA requirements) that help patients make wiser decisions about side effect management.


Are You Teaching Patients To Manage Side Effects?

A medication that is more expensive but has fewer side effects may be the most cost-effective.

Why? When patients experience adverse effects, many just stop taking the medication. In one study, 28% of patients having side effects stopped the medication without ever telling their doctor.

In a study of patients taking antihypertensive medications, 61% of those who did not develop side effects were compliant. In contrast, only 31% among those who developed side effects took the medication correctly.

[Click to to see enlarged view]

Contact Consumer Health Information Corporation to find out how to ensure that patients know what to expect and know how to manage common side effects. This will give them a positive alternative to stopping the drug.


Trying To Get Your Drug On a Managed Care Formulary?

To get your product on a managed care organization’s formulary, you need to convince the decision-makers the issue is not the price of the drug but why your product is more cost-effective in the long run.

Your product can only be cost-effective if it is taken correctly. For instance, patients who missed only 20% of their prescribed dose of beta-blockers for mild hypertension had a 4.5 to 6.5 fold increased risk of coronary heart disease.

This is why patient compliance is at the heart of your product’s long term success. It has been proven that high quality programs that teach patients how to take their medications result in lower healthcare costs

  • An intensive one-week outpatient program of reevaluation and education of asthma patients produced a drop of 80% in hospitalizations, 45% in emergency room visits, and 82% in total hospital days within a year after the program.

  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts realized a 50% drop in treatment costs and a 40% drop in hospital admissions when they combined an asthma education program with a 60% increase in the use of anti-inflammatory inhalers.


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.

8300 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1220 | McLean, Virginia 22102

(703) 734-0650 | Fax (703) 734-1459

To request permission to reprint any of this information, click here.

If you want to sign up a colleague to receive this newsletter, please complete the request form.

© 1998 Consumer Health Information Corporation. All rights reserved.