Patient Education Vol2 No2

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. 2

peu_smith2 Dr. Dorothy L. Smith is an internationally recognized expert in patient education, patient information, 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 patient information 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 patient 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:

A successful DTC campaign will:
  • have wording and “patient-friendly” medical illustrations based on sound patient education criteria

  • be integrated with every aspect of the product launch and patient education materials.

Your message must guide consumers through the two main stages of their health care:
  • The Consumer Stage—Consumers need practical information they can understand. It must convince them to seek appropriate help.

  • The Patient Stage—Once consumers become patients, they need product-specific information that motivates them to manage their disease and medications effectively.

But remember: Even the best integrated program will be useless unless the content meets all the criteria for sound patient education

Half of patients prescribed antihypertensives stop taking them within the first year.

Consider the costs in lost prescription refills and treatment of medical complications such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, stroke and renal failure.

The color of a medication can influence whether a patient takes it.

Green tablets and capsules have been found to be better received by patients who suffer from anxiety. Yellow is more effective with depressed patients.

Routine immunizations may cause hair loss in rare cases.

The problem is most frequently associated with the Hepatitis B vaccine, and appears to affect more women than men.

Even if a patient admits to missing any medication during the previous day or week, he or she will tend to over estimate the actual rate of compliance by 17%.

Consumer Health Information Corporation can help you effectively integrate your messages for consumers and patients at every stage—from the Patient Labeling for the DTC ad… to the DTC collateral materials… to adherence packaging for the product launch starter kit… to all the product-specific patient information programs. peu_smith

Is Your DTC Message Integrated with Your Patient Education Program?

Are you developing your product’s DTC materials piecemeal? Are patients and consumers receiving mixed messages from your company?

For your product to achieve its maximum ROI, your DTC materials must:

  • be developed according to proven patient education principles

  • deliver a consistent “consumer-friendly” message

  • be integrated with all your product-specific patient information


Dr. Dorothy L. Smith “Integrate your message…enhance patient compliance…increase sales.”

Many companies are throwing away dollars and jeopardizing their ROI by distributing materials that deliver inconsistent messages. Don’t take this risk. “DTC materials are the first link in a total program that can improve patient compliance with your product,” said Dr. Dorothy L. Smith, President of Consumer Health Information Corporation.

“Skillfully integrating the DTC collateral materials with the patient education program will target the 10% of prescriptions never filled, the 33% never refilled, and the 50% of medications taken incorrectly.”

“Unfortunately,” Dr. Smith added, “most of the DTC Patient Labeling and collateral materials we review are written at the grade 12-16 reading level. Since the average American reads at the grade 6-8 level, most people will never be able to understand the message.”

In our recent survey of DTC ads… even in DTC materials that at first glance look consumer-friendly… we found terms like anorexia, hepatitis, jaundice, cirrhosis, nodules, elevated alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin. This type of wording will probably frighten many consumers and you are shooting yourself in the foot when you use it.”

Who Would You Turn to for Advice?*

Personal Doctor 99%

Family and friends 77%

Nurses 73%

Other health care professionals 70%

Pharmacists 60%

Voluntary health organizations 59%

Medical professional associations 51%

Health insurance plans 39%

Consumer groups 33%

* Percentage of those with personal physician reporting “Yes”

Patient Noncompliance Takes a Big Bite Out of Every Corporation’s Bottom Line


From a comprehensive employee education program developed by Consumer Health Information Corporation

Patient noncompliance with prescription medications has a profound impact on every corporation’s bottom line. Patient noncompliance is one of this country’s largest and most expensive disease categories—totaling more than $100 billion each year in medical costs, absenteeism, accidents, and lost productivity.

The meter keeps on running.
  • A worker is injured because he does not know how to manage the dizziness caused by his antidepressant medication.

  • A retiree stops taking his high blood pressure medicine, then has a stroke or requires kidney dialysis—either of which may have been preventable.

  • A mother fails to give her child an antibiotic for the full course of treatment and the middle ear infection comes back—requiring more time away from work and more doctor and pharmacy costs.

Effective employee education is the key to stemming these costs. In order for an employer to get the maximum return on its health care expenditures, it is essential that employees learn how to take greater responsibility for their health care at home and at work.

Where Does the Consumer Look for Medical Advice?

Who would you look to for information to help you make decisions about your medical treatment?”

That question was asked in a nationwide survey, “Public Opinion of Patient Safety Issues,” conducted for the National Patient Safety Foundation at the American Medical Association.

Surprisingly, consumers said that—after their personal doctor—they would turn to family and friends before seeking advice from nurses, pharmacists, or other health care professionals. Only a fraction would look to health insurance plans or consumer groups for information.

The take-home messages are:

  • Consumers will continue to decide who they turn to for advice.

  • Consumers need to be convinced to seek information from more qualified sources than family and friends.

  • Consumers must see your DTC and patient information materials as reliable, dependable information—not advertising.

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.

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

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