3 Strategies for Sourcing Patient Health Education

Steven Franklin, Product Marketing Manager

Patient education is an essential part of healthcare delivery. When providing patient education, you have many pieces of the puzzle to fit together: the content to provide, how to document education delivery, how to deliver the education to patients securely, and much more.


What makes good patient education content?

The essential first step is developing your content library. The right content library is comprehensive and understandable for your patients and gets results. Some of the hallmarks of high-quality health education include content that:

  • Is created in an engaging, patient-focused style that includes text, illustrations, and video resources.
  • Uses plain language and avoids confusing medical terminology to promote understanding of the subject.
  • Ensures the topic is fully addressed with links and references to more information.
  • Is offered in different formats—including print, online, and mobile-friendly—to meet patient preferences and needs.
  • Is indexed to rich metadata to make the content findable and connected to related information.

Specifically, effective patient education1:

  • Results in better outcomes by ensuring patients fully understand how to treat and manage their condition.
  • Drives higher patient satisfaction with your organization by empowering patients to be part of the healthcare process.
  • Helps you meet regulatory needs for patient education.


Where do you get good patient education content?

For patient education materials, you can either develop the content yourself or partner with a patient education company to provide the content for you.

1. Develop the content yourself

In the do-it-yourself (DIY) method, you produce all text, images, illustrations, video, and other multimedia items in-house. These items are customized to your organization and maintained by your staff.

DIY might be a good option if you have the resources to develop the content and need very specific content to meet your needs. Developing your own content is typically labor-intensive and requires writers, medical personnel, and marketing brand experts.

Some pros of a DIY approach:

  • Focused. You can focus only on the service lines or specialties you need content for.
  • Customized. You have full medical and editorial control over the content itself.
  • Unique. You can write about specific topics and conditions that are needed.

Some cons of a DIY approach:

  • Time consuming. It may take months to produce a piece of quality, medically reviewed content.
  • Expensive. Each piece of effective education content takes a lot of resources and expertise to create.
  • Ongoing. Content must be maintained and updated to reflect changes and advances in the medical field.

2. Rely on a proven patient education partner

Relying upon a partner for patient education can be a good way to control costs and quickly establish a health education library. Patient education content providers are skilled in maintaining a vast library of content targeting a wide range of health conditions, medical devices, procedures, test, treatments, wellness, and more.

Some pros of a partner approach:

  • Experience. Partners are experienced in providing effective content and are experts in their craft, leading to better and faster results.
  • Quantity. An entire library of patient-friendly, medically reviewed content is instantly at your fingertips.
  • Savings. Using a patient education partner may be less expensive than developing the content yourself.
  • Findability.  Patient education partners spend a vast amount of time and clinical expertise making the content findable and related so you don’t have to.

Some cons of a partner approach:

  • Less span of control. You don’t have control over the topics included in the library.
  • Integration. Integrating with your system and technical resources may be a concern.

3. A hybrid approach

With a hybrid approach to patient education, you rely on a patient education partner for most of your “out of the box” educational content. You can then add supplemental content as needed that works specifically for your organization. For example, when creating materials about Type 2 Diabetes, you might include the main information from your patient education partner for definitions and information but supplement at the end with treatment options and information specific to your organization. Most education partners will have experience with a hybrid approach and will be able to provide flexible content where you need it.

The pros of a hybrid approach:

  • Customization options. Partners provide a comprehensive library of education you can pick and choose from to supplement with custom content.
  • Savings. By only customizing what you need, you’ll save time and resources.
  • Speed. You can establish an education library quickly since the information already exists.

The cons of a hybrid approach:

  • Technology challenges. Your technical implementation needs must match, and partners should provide a flexible technology that allows you to customize content.
  • Internal resources. You must create internal processes for writing, reviewing, and maintaining customized content.

How to choose your approach

There are a few basic questions to consider when selecting a DIY vs. partnership vs. hybrid approach for patient education. Use the questions below to help you decide which approach best fits your organization.

  • Do I have the internal resources, expertise, and executive support to write content?
  • Do I have physician champions in various areas who will review and support the content I write?
  • How quickly do I need to implement patient education content?
  • Have I tried one of these approaches in the past? How well did it work?
  • Do I need a broad range of content, or smaller sets of specific and targeted content?
  • Can I produce multimedia (illustrations and videos) internally to support my content?
  • Do I have time to organize, index, and govern my content and metadata?

If you are ready to explore a partnership for your patient education needs, Healthwise is ready to help. Please contact us to learn more.

1 http://www.jblearning.com/samples/0763755443/55447_CH01_Dreeben.pdf