The Coffey Blog

Content is king: How to pick a partner for your disease management newsletter

Posted on: Monday, August 7, 2017

By Karen Craddock, Senior Editor

A key goal of any disease management program is to help people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart failure, live better and healthier lives. One way to help your health plan members do that is through your newsletter.

However, it takes time to generate effective, practical and accurate content—which is why you may outsource the job. In that case, it's vital to work with a vendor you can trust. But what should you look for when choosing a content partner?

5 questions to ask about a vendor's library content

1. Are there stories that can help counteract some of the harmful things people read on the internet? You can find all sorts of medical information on the internet—including advice that can hurt your members' health. An effective library contains healthcare content that is trustworthy, and that library provides the type of medically accurate information that can help keep your members from falling prey to false health claims.

Example: A recent editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that statins—cholesterol-lowering drugs that help reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease—have developed a bad reputation with the public, largely driven by unfounded, but persuasive, criticism of the drugs on the internet. Statins are safe, and people should not stop taking them without talking to their doctor first. An effective library would make this point persuasively and often—about all prescribed medicines.

2. Are there stories that will resonate with people at different stages of a disease and with different forms of a disease? Your health plan newsletter is sent to a variety of members, including some who are newly diagnosed with a disease, some who have been living with a disease for a long time and some who have a different form of a disease. The library should have content that will help all of these members.

Example: Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood, which means many parents are either managing the disease in young kids or are helping older kids control the disease. But type 1 diabetes can also strike young adults, and many children who were diagnosed with the disease are living to middle age and beyond. A variety of healthcare content with specific advice for these specific groups is a must.

3. Does the content help people learn how to effectively manage a disease—both on a routine and an urgent basis? Your members need easy-to-understand directions on the best practices for managing their disease when they're feeling good—and feeling bad.

Example: People with heart failure need to keep a close eye on a number of things, like how much weight they gain and how much salt they eat. Content that helps them track and manage their to-do lists is vital. But so is content that helps this group know when to call a doctor—and when to go to the emergency department.

4. Does the content help readers to think: "I can do this!"? It's not easy living with a chronic condition—especially for people who've had a disease for a long time. A vendor's library should be stocked with stories that have a positive and upbeat tone, while still acknowledging how hard it sometimes can be to stick with a healthy routine. This is the kind of content that helps to inspire change.

Example: Eating a diet that helps keep blood sugar under control is a challenge for many people with diabetes. A content library for this group might contain practical tips about choosing carbs wisely or picking the right kinds of foods when eating out. The library might also contain stories that help these readers understand the real benefits they might attain through a healthy diet.

5. Do the stories avoid medical jargon? You want readers of your health plan newsletter to understand the advice in the stories—and act on it. They can't do that if they don't understand terms or phrases used in the stories or if the copy sounds like it was lifted from a medical encyclopedia.

Example: There are always ways to make complex medical phrases more reader-friendly. For instance, oral medications can be called medications you take by mouth. Or instead of saying cranial hemorrhage, call it bleeding in the brain. If a complicated medical term must be used for accuracy, then a simplified definition should be included as well. Check out these tips on how to cut jargon from healthcare content, and use it as a guide for measuring how well a vendor's disease management library lives up to that advice.

We'd like to partner with you!

At Coffey, we have content in our disease management libraries that will help people with a variety of chronic conditions take control and enjoy better health. Our experienced writers and editors know how to produce stories for your health plan newsletter that can inspire, educate and motivate. To learn more, call 888.805.9101 or email us.

Related reading

Your healthcare content: Tap into the power of empathy
7 things in your healthcare writing that readers will love you for
How to make a complex medical topic easy to understand