Thursday, April 18, 2013

The 3 Ps for producing high quality patient educational content

One of the interesting things I learned at Healthwise is that while it is easy it is to write content , it’s extremely difficult to write high-quality content . Writing generic health content is extremely easy – the challenge is to design content which is engaging to the user , so that the user will take action , thus helping them to change their behaviour and make better healthcare decisions.

We all know from personal experience that changing our own behavior is very difficult ( remember the last time you tried to stick to a diet ?) Changing someone else's behavior is even harder , and unless you provide the right information to the right person at the right time , this information is of no use at all, even though it may be crafted well. This means that just creating high quality reliable content is no longer enough.  Even if you have high-quality messages which are written in plain English , the important thing is that they need to be personalized.

How can you tailor the message to a particular individual ? You need to understand what the needs of an individual are at that particular point in his life . If you target the right person with the right information , his chances of taking action are far more as compared to just giving him over 100 pages of print and telling him - read this and try making sense of it.

This is where the Healthwise concept of the 3 Ps ( Plain, Personal and Possible) comes in . The information should be in Plain language; it should be Personal ( which means you tailor the message by understanding how the user thinks and makes decisions , using the science of user experience, persona and mental
models ); and it should be Possible – which means the information should encourage the reader to think that it's possible for him to make the recommended changes . These need to be small changes , one at a time , which focus on what he can do , rather than what he cannot.

If you put all this together , it's possible to produce messages which can be extremely effective, but as you can imagine, this is not a simple exercise and most people aren't willing to take the time and trouble to craft persuasive messages which are going to impact the user in a way which makes a difference to them and causes them to take action. This is what makes Healthwise content so special !

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