William Osler knew a thing or two about medicine.
Often called the ‘father of modern medicine’, the Canadian physician was the first to take medical students out of the lecture hall and into the hospitals for bedside clinical training.
It seems crazy now, but before Sir Osler such medical residencies didn’t exist, and wannabe doctors may not have interacted with real-life patients for a significant chunk of their training.
Sir Osler is a hero to us at Anatomy Health. Because he understood that medicine is about people, not just diseases.
Or, as he put it: “The good physician treats the disease. The great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”
Communication, information and health
And actually, at Anatomy Health we’d add a little more to that – treating patients isn’t just about medicines. Ask any doctor or nurse and they’ll agree that a major part of treatment is about communication.
Without effective communication, the prescription of medicine is like putting together an Ikea wardrobe without using the instructions – the outcome might be passable, but it’ll be far from ideal.
And rather than having a wonky door, you might end up with a patient who fails to take their medicine as intended, or who doesn’t follow through with lifestyle advice. Not because they’re unmotivated, but simply because they haven’t understood key information about their disease or treatment.
At its core, communication is about the exchange of this key information, either by speaking, by writing or other means such as illustration, animations or videos.
And it’s this simple insight that led to the launch of Anatomy Health. Because we think health information can and should be, well… simpler.
In fact, we don’t just think it, we know it.
The information gap
Across pretty much any therapy area you can think of, the evidence shows that patients are too often being failed by the information they’re given. (Contact us if you’re curious about your own therapy area.)
Just last month, the Academy of Medical Sciences published a report bemoaning the “impenetrable” language of patient leaflets. This after the European Commission published guidelines in 2009 to combat the lack of information quality in leaflets.
And – here’s the clincher – a recent study showed that up to 21 million working age adults in the UK struggle with the health information they are given.
That’s simply not acceptable.
The science of simple
So, a question for anybody reading this who has produced patient materials: how do you know that those patient brochures, websites, apps, videos, consent forms, etc. that you’re producing are really hitting the mark?
The truth is, for every great patient asset produced by pharma, the bigger picture (and research) shows that a large majority of the population is not being served.
The good news is that there are a bucketload of research-backed methods to improve the accessibility of printed and digital health information, and so give people a better chance of truly engaging in their health and treatment.
We call this the science of simple. And its part and parcel of what we do at Anatomy Health.
Whether looking at a short patient booklet, a more in-depth website or a full-on patient engagement strategy, we apply validated tools and evidence-based quality standards to increase the accessibility of patient information, support and services.
Healthier through design
The rewards of making things simpler can be impressive.
Patients who are better informed about their health have more effective consultations with their health care provider, are more likely to comply with their medication and can have improved health outcomes. (We’d be happy to share the evidence on this.)
So if you’re looking for ways to help truly engage patients and improve health outcomes, start with the science of simple information.
If the evidence shows it works, then why wouldn’t you?
Simple as that.
Health Information Director
Ps. Bookmark this blog and our twitter feed for the latest information about health information design, health literacy, user testing, and musings on how pharma and other healthcare organisations can help patients through simpler information.
And of course, get in touch if you think we could help you with your patient support efforts.