Patient Education Vol4 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. 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 patient 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.


10% of Initial Prescriptions Never Filled

Approximately 10% of all prescriptions written by physicians are never filled by patients. Many patients decide right in the doctor’s office not to have the prescription filled – but they do not tell the doctor. In one study, 73% of the patients gave the following reasons:

  • “I did not need the medication.”
  • “I did not want to take the medication.”

That is why consumers need patient information about their medication that is written in language they can understand and that motivates them to take the medication correctly. Only then can the product reach its maximum ROI.

For more on lost revenues from unfilled and unrefilled prescriptions due to poor patient adherence, click here.

DTC Ads and the Credibility Gap


Even though a DTC campaign, Patient Package Insert (PPI), or a patient education program has met all the requirements of the company’s clinical, marketing, legal and regulatory team as well as the FDA regulations, it can NEVER be maximally effective if the consumer doesn’t understand the information.

I was recently invited to speak at a Drug Information Association (DIA) meeting in Manhattan, where I joined a panel of FDA experts and representatives of a major advertising agency and public relations firm to explore the topic, “New Ways To Promote … Marketing of Pharmaceuticals: How To Be Aggressive and In Compliance.” I was asked to evaluate DTC ads and patient education materials from the consumer’s perspective. There were some that patients would understand and that would motivate them to take the proper next step. But these were few and far between.

I encouraged the audience to put themselves in the place of the consumer and see if the information would be useful to them and if they would understand it. Here is an example of wording from a patient education pamphlet that is being sent to patients to encourage them to get their first refill.

“In a study of over 4,000 people with heart disease and high cholesterol, [PRODUCT] demonstrated dramatic results:

  • 42% fewer deaths from heart disease*
  • 28% fewer first strokes or mini-strokes**

* 42% reduction based on 111/2,221 (product) vs. 189/2,223 (placebo) ** 28% reduction based on 75/2,221 (product) vs. 102/2,223 (placebo) strokes and mini-strokes.”

These statistics are meant for health professionals. I can guarantee that the average consumer will not understand what these statistics mean. In fact, this wording will frighten many consumers–and produce the opposite effect of what was intended.

For more on the importance of putting patient information ito language that the average consumer can understand, click here.

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.

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 and increase patient adherence. 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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