Patient Education Vol4 No4


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. 4

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.


DTC and patient communications must be treated differently than medical communications.

Special attention must be given to the application of specialized health literacy and behavior modification techniques.

pic_patientlabel Click here

Prevent Refill Dropouts As many as 30% of all refillable prescriptions go unfilled. But product managers who tie their DTC campaigns to both the initial prescription and the refill prescriptions are seeing a dramatic increase in overall sales.

That is why it is important to convince the patient to take your product over the long term. Link your DTC strategy to an overall patient compliance program. Ensure that patients receive the full benefit of your medication, and that the product achieves its maximum ROI.

Click here to read why prescription refills are more important than initial prescriptions to your bottom line.

Does Your Message Force Consumers to Make “Leaps”?

pic_dtcstrat_90w Click here

If your DTC ad, Patient Package Insert (PPI), or other patient communication forces consumers to make “leaps” from one thought to another on subjects they do not have enough medical knowledge on, they will not be able to understand your message. They will probably turn the page or throw the leaflet away.

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. Our topic was, “New Ways To Promote … Marketing of Pharmaceuticals: How To Be Aggressive and In Compliance.” My role was to evaluate DTC ads and patient education materials from the consumer’s perspective.

A point I stressed is that — with many DTC ads, PPIs, and patient education materials –consumers are assumed to have sufficient medical background to be able to make the mental “leap” from one statement to another. However, most consumers do not have this knowledge. As a result, they never understand the information. This is the reason so many DTC and patient education materials are ineffective.

If you put yourself in the place of the consumer, would you be able to understand this statement from an actual DTC ad?

“[PRODUCT] is a leukotriene receptor antagonist that works by blocking substances called leukotrienes. Blocking leukotrienes improves asthma symptoms. [PRODUCT] is not a steroid.”

A health professional will understand this DTC ad … but certainly not consumers.

  • Consumers will not understand what a “leukotriene” is.
  • Consumers will not understand what a “leukotriene receptor antagonist” is.
  • Consumers will not understand why blocking leukotrienes has a relationship to asthma symptoms.
  • Consumers will not understand why it is important that this product is not a steroid.

Though this ad tried to translate information into consumer-friendly language, it misses the mark. The complicated medical terminology must be translated into a simplified explanation of how the drug works. A patient-friendly illustration would also help.

Click here to read why “Consumers Call for Clarity in DTC Ads”.

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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