When in the market for health education materials, you have a wide-range of options. The numerous vendors and formats available can make the selection process seem like a daunting task. Even with so many available options, it can be difficult to find materials that are accurate, up-to-date and cost-effective. A thorough analysis of your target audience is also required to assess their learning and literacy needs. This will help you to determine the appropriate medium to provide the materials.
To be cost-effective, many organizations turn to materials provided at no charge from government agencies, national associations and pharmaceutical companies. The concern with these materials is sometimes, you get what you pay for. Many of the materials provided by pharmaceutical companies are simply advertisements for their products. It is best to choose information from unbiased organizations that are not promoting their own agenda. If you do choose materials from any of these organizations, it is important that you explain the source to every patient you give it to. This allows them to make their own decisions regarding the information you provide.
Some organizations choose to create their own materials as a low cost way to address a specific need. Although a popular option, creating your own materials is not as cost-effective as it initially seems. Once you factor in the time and money to obtain information to reprint, developing the document and printing costs this options is surprisingly expensive.
Providing web-based information to patients is a trend that has been growing in popularity, but the risks associated with this option have become an increased concern. Using information printed from the Internet is an efficient way of providing your patients with information on an as-needed basis, however, it is imperative that you first verify the accuracy and credibility of the content. This requires a look at the “about us” section on the website and a painstaking evaluation of the credentials of the authors and contributors to the health materials. Many people believe that if they stick to a domain ending in .org, .edu or .gov site (avoiding a .com), they will be safe from organizations with commercial interests. While there is some truth to this, many of these websites embody their own personal prejudices that may negatively affect the quality of their content.
Commercial publishers of health education materials may seem costly, but when considering the time and effort put forth with other options they are many times the best option. Companies that publish patient education materials should have a library of standard choices to choose from and should have the ability to customize and create any materials you may need. Customization also allows your organization an opportunity to brand the materials to help increase your brand equity with patients.
Choosing materials that will educate patients is not something that should be taken lightly. The health and wellbeing of your patients relies on the quality of the materials.
Download our Health Education Materials Checklist, to be certain you are choosing wisely.