As Senior Managing Editor of Waiting Room Programs at PatientPoint, I’ve had the privilege of producing hundreds of patient education segments that have been featured in tens of thousands of physician waiting rooms nationwide. We create our content—on topics ranging from asthma to vaccines—to power better patient-physician engagement at the critical point of care. While each piece of content is important, few have been more powerful and personal to develop than our recent segments on the opioid crisis, declared as a national public health emergency on October 26, 2017.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we lost 64,000 Americans to opioids in 2016; that’s more than the number of Americans we lost in the Vietnam War. Drug overdoses—many of them from prescription opioids—are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. As the PatientPoint team saw these and other troubling statistics, we decided to act to bring desperately needed opioid education to a critical setting: the physician office.
We immediately began our extensive research process to put our finger on the pulse of America’s opioid crisis. We consulted the National Institutes of Health and CDC for the latest findings and statistics. We investigated how some of the country’s leading academic medical centers were dealing with this issue. We read heartbreaking stories of struggle and loss. As we continued our research, we knew that we would need to set an informative rather than an alarming tone in our segments.
As we continued the ideation process, we realized that our efforts would be further strengthened by a partner organization who could serve as a subject-matter-expert consultant. Most importantly, collaborating with a partner could ensure that we portrayed this extremely important, yet delicate, topic in the correct light. And we found that partner in Shatterproof, a national addiction prevention, treatment and recovery nonprofit. Founded in 2013 by Gary Mendell, who lost his son after a long battle with addiction, Shatterproof works to end the stigma around the disease of addiction and foster a community of support, providing evidence-based resources to support prevention, treatment and recovery. The organization also advocates for policy changes at both the federal and state level and is a recognized thought leader in the addiction and recovery space.
Together with Shatterproof, our team of writers and designers developed scripts, storyboards and finalized four segments on the following topics that are currently or will soon run in approximately 25,000 physician offices nationwide:
- Need-to-know statistics on the overdose epidemic
- Addiction after prescription painkillers
- Reducing the stigma of addiction
- Opioid function and addiction development
As someone who has dealt with opioid addiction in my family, I can say that the importance of encouraging education and dialogue cannot be overstated. I’m proud of our mission to offer providers meaningful content to help facilitate that critical dialogue. People who are struggling with addiction are just like you and me: successful professionals, parents, spouses, and friends. It is my hope that, with help from resources and support like our educational segments, more Americans will seek help.
Editor’s Note: Read more about our collaboration with Shatterproof here.
Emily Cowie is Senior Managing Editor of the PatientPoint Communicate Digital Waiting Room Screens Program. In her role, Emily oversees editorial development—from conception and research to writing, design and expert review—for award-winning digital waiting room segments in seven distinct specialties.