Thursday, July 17, 2014

Placebo vs. sugar pills. Catering your language to the right audience

It’s been a busy three weeks at rxBriefCase, but I was able to carve out some time to provide an update on my experiences so far.
For a large part, I’ve been focusing on the eNewsletter (arrived in your inboxes on July 11!) and a patient-focused program for While both involve education, developing content for the two tools is vastly different. The newsletter is distributed to pharmacists and healthcare professionals who possess the training to understand the scientific terminology. medSchoolForYou, on the other hand, is designed to empower patients by providing them with knowledge to make informed decisions; the language must therefore be patient-centered.


Thankfully, I have a wide range of audiences to gauge understanding. In particular, pharmacist and CME writer, Mike Boivin, has years of experience writing for healthcare professionals, while a few colleagues at mdBriefCase (who don’t have a science or healthcare background) provide me with suggestions for more patient-oriented language.
The development stages for both educational pieces are quite similar, but appear to require a different area of my brain and thought process to ensure audience-appropriate language.
Step 1: Topic selection
Finding a topic that will both interest me and engage the desired audience.

Step 2: Research, research, research
This step involves gathering the most up-to-date Canadian guidelines and recommendations to provide the required supporting evidence.

Step 3: Write the first draft
Completing the first draft can be a long process as you try to concisely convey your thoughts into text.

Step 4: Review & edit, repeat
As a newby, drafts are subject to multiple rounds of review and edits. Medical terminology often become common language for healthcare practitioners. To illustrate, the medSchoolForYou program I developed revolves around frequently asked questions on contraception, but would the average female know what contraception means? In this case, using “birth control” may be more appropriate. Or would patients understand “dyslipidemia” and “hypertension”? Most often we use patient-centered terms like “high blood pressure” or “high cholesterol” to help patients understand.

Step 5: Programming and development
Once the content is finalized, the responsibility is passed onto the rxBriefCase team to ensure the text you see online and in your email is appealing.

Step 6: Go live
Making the content available to the public for viewing and hoping it makes a difference.

As you can imagine, my last few weeks have been encompassed with writing for these two tools. Stay tuned for the release of the medSchoolForYou program in the next week or two! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!