Patient Education Update

Vol 4. No. 2

by Dr. Dorothy L. Smith, President, Consumer Health Information Corporation. Visit our web site at http://www.consumer-health.com.

For 20 years, Consumer Health Information Corporation has specialized in helping product teams integrate patient education into their marketing strategies …. and enhance ROI through patient retention.

The consumer will be the final judge of all the marketing materials you produce for them. Once consumers and patients understand the information being given to them and believe that it is important to their own personal health, the health care system will start working as it should … and I can guarantee that a product’s ROI will increase.


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 information in language that the average consumer can understand, check this: http://www.consumer-health.com/services/patient_labeling.php


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. Only then can the product fulfill its potential.

Check here to see why we’re unique: http://www.consumer-health.com/expertise.php.


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 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, check here:http://www.consumer-health.com/services/pat_compliance.php.


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If you have questions or would like more information on how to increase patient compliance with your product, please click here or call (703) 734-0650.

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