Why Cancer Education is Critical to Patient Engagement

by Phyllis Pittman, President and Founder of CMedEd

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Before I started working in patient communications, I was volunteering in the emergency room at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston. During my volunteering days, many of the patients I visited were unable to communicate because English was not their first language or their condition did not allow them to speak. I decided to draw a chart with pictures of random things they might need so they could point to when they needed to communicate with their nurse or doctor. Word spread of these charts, which would later be called patient request guides, and the New York Times published an article with a sample of the chart. Soon after I received requests from across the United States. A man from Austin, Texas, whose wife had been a patient at MD Anderson, sent me a check for $50 and asked me to deliver several of these charts to the hospital. His wife had just passed away from throat cancer, and he said he wished she would have been able to communicate with her doctors and nurses in her final days. He worried that she died hungry.

My father died of cancer 23 years ago, 6 months after he retired at the age of 68. He passed when there was no cancer education available for him or his family to learn about his diagnosis. Because of this, I became motivated to find a way to help patients navigate through their cancer journeys and ease their challenges. My father and the patients I saw in the emergency room struggling to communicate with their doctors were and still are the driving force behind my company CMedEd.

After 20 years working with major pharmaceutical companies to develop patient education materials, I decided to take this information into the digital age and create a cancer education website, CMedEd. Through a private, password protected portal, CMedEd houses content on over 120 cancer topics, tumor types and related co-morbidity diseases. We have taken complex medical information and simplified by using visuals that appeal to a wide and diverse population. The content is developed at an 6th to 10th grade reading level and is accompanied by over 1500 original illustrations that help explain one’s cancer diagnosis.

All of the information on CMedEd has been vetted at the highest level by a group of world renown doctors from the nation’s top cancer institutions, including MD Anderson, James Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering and more. The content is reviewed by these doctors every year to keep it current in an ever-changing environment, and at the bottom of every topic we list the credentials of the doctor that helped review it so that patients can trust the information is reliable.

Patient education is a central component to patient engagement. Many healthcare organizations stress they advocate for patient engagement by providing remote management systems that connect patients to physicians, or by providing them access to portals where they can access personal medical information. However, my team and I have found that many healthcare organizations provide little information on educational material and when they do, they are provided with multiple hyperlinks. CMedEd is the key destination; one has no need to search further. A proven and trustworthy resource, CMedEd is the gold standard in patient education.

As I hope I have made clear, the challenges of delivering user-friendly, sensitive, accurate and comprehensive patient education in a challenging healthcare system like ours are myriad. It is up to companies like CMedEd to keep pushing forward, to share our name with the world, so that we are able to get the vital information on cancer education into the hands of patients and their caregivers.

If you are interested in CMedEd and helping provide patients with trustworthy, reliable information that will ease their cancer journey, please visit our site at https://www.CMedEd.com or contact me at: p@pittmancommunications.com.