Leveraging the New Care Paradigm to Enhance Patient Education
Healthcare choices are personal decisions that used to be made between people and their primary care providers. Increasingly, we see a number of specialists aside from our primary care providers – who we spend significantly more time with and are reliant upon for information.
This is a particularly important point when designing campaigns aimed at educating female patients. No longer should a primary care provider be the sole, primary focus. Even when the campaign concentrates on general women’s health prevention for conditions, such as heart disease and breast cancer, it is imperative to include nurses, OBGYNs and even nutritionists in the communications plan design.
A recent example of a campaign that reflected this thinking and showed positive results is the American Heart Association’s (AHA) “The Heart Truth®.” Well-known for its symbolic red dress, the campaign’s purpose is to raise awareness that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
After years of reaching out to targeted healthcare providers, the AHA in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute published tailored educational materials to non-physician professionals who provided primary care. It also created specific background for obstetricians and gynecologists, who they found were not as educated about cardiovascular disease prevention.
This approach was validated when this week. Researchers, including Suzanne Haynes, Ph.D., senior science advisor at the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, announced study results that found these professionals, who previously had a lower level of education on the issue, could help play a key role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women. It also demonstrated that healthcare professionals need to be reached out to in order to ensure better care can be provided to patients.
This case study reinforces the fact that audiences identified in communications campaigns need to reflect the new care paradigm of specialists being important audiences to reach. This is particularly important as we get closer to a time when experts fear a shortage of primary care professionals.