Why Point of Care Is a Key Piece of the Disease Education Puzzle

Disease education is vital for activating patients and helping them make informed decisions about their health, but patients aren’t getting enough of it. One solution is to offer disease education in new formats and forums—including at the point of care.

Research across therapeutic categories has shown patients need more information about the various health conditions they may face to fully understand their treatment options and feel confident in their ability to manage those conditions. Long-term constipation, for example, can cause hemorrhoids, fecal impaction, and bowel incontinence, but in a Phreesia survey of nearly 7,000 adult constipation patients as they checked in for doctors’ appointments, only 17% said they completely understood those risks, and 61% said they understood them “somewhat well” to “not at all.”1 Perhaps as a result, 78% said they were managing their constipation only “somewhat well” to “not well at all,” and 31% had never discussed the problem with their doctor.

Patients not only need more disease education, they want it, too. A separate Phreesia survey of nearly 2,000 patients diagnosed with or treated for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) revealed that about one-third of COPD patients felt they didn’t fully understand their condition, and only 44% had detailed conversations with their doctor about their symptoms.2 When asked what resources would be most helpful for improving management of their COPD, 26% valued materials that could help facilitate discussions with their doctor.

Disease education can also be instrumental in helping diagnose patients faster. Phreesia survey results show that people exposed to an Alzheimer’s awareness public service announcement (PSA) during check-in were 25% more likely to identify the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in their loved ones than those who didn’t see the PSA. And 52% of people who engaged with the message said they were likely to talk with their doctor about Alzheimer’s disease for themselves or a loved one.3

How Can Marketers Improve Disease Education?

Providing educational health content and materials at the point of care is a good place to start. While it traditionally has been considered a “reminder channel” to reinforce mass-media messaging that patients have already seen, the point of care can achieve much more, thanks in part to digital innovations that have expanded its uses.

Disease-specific discussion guides emailed to patients before their appointment can empower them to engage in shared decision-making with their doctor. Digital symptom trackers can help patients understand that what they’re experiencing is treatable and worth bringing up with their doctor. And patients who view educational content on their phone during check-in may share more relevant details about their health conditions and ask more informed questions about their therapeutic options.

Given point of care’s proximity to crucial doctor-patient discussions, the channel can play an integral role in any omnichannel media strategy, even when it comes to unbranded awareness campaigns. Ultimately, disease education at the point of care helps to speed diagnosis, establish treatment plans that better meet patients’ needs, and improve overall health outcomes.


1. https://lifesciences.phreesia.com/reports/patients-in-focus-constipation-treatment-and-perceptions.

2. https://lifesciences.phreesia.com/reports/patients-in-focus-copd-treatment-and-perceptions.

3. https://lifesciences.phreesia.com/press-releases/alzheimers-ad-council-partnership.

  • David Linetsky

    David Linetsky is Senior Vice President of Life Sciences at Phreesia, a leading point-of-care company that empowers life sciences brands to connect meaningfully with clinically relevant patients and deliver personalized health content in a one-to-one setting. David is also a member of the board of the Point of Care Marketing Association (POCMA), the point-of-care industry’s trade association.


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