Patient education through newspaper advertorials

More than 30 Lakhs people read The Times of India. It is a very powerful medium to reach out to people. When we were offered an opportunity to write the advertorial for a newspaper, we were overwhelmed with the kind of impact we were going to build.

Looking back in the history, the first newspaper in India was circulated in 1780 under the editorship of James Augustus Hickey, named 'The Bengal Gazette'. Started in 1881, Tilak's Kesari became one of the leading media to propagate the message of a freedom movement.


And there we were, contributing to the most epic and strongest media in the history, we had an opportunity be published in Times of India.

The topic was patient education. This was not an advertisement, we were not selling anything. We were publishing the information that people will read and take informed decision about their health.

AIt was a big responsibility, but as long as it is about patient education we were confident about our approach. We were assigned a topic, we went back and did a detailed background research. We then came up with the concepts for presenting the topic that will help us to reach out many people.

We built a structure and went for a meeting with the Doctors. These were head of the departments and few of the best doctors in India. We were able to receive valuable inputs from them; from the way they manage a particular disease condition to the different complications while expecting the desired outcome. With their help, we could get the grass level information about the problems real doctors and real patients are facing. Talking to all those highly intellectual and passionate doctors was enriching.

Finally, we developed the patient education content and got them published. Topics, apart from being informational, were interesting too, such as epilepsy surgeries, cochlear implants, biliary atresia, aortic aneurysm, integrated approach for treating cancer, kidney transplant and much more.

We used to get positive feedback in terms of the number of patients who called after reading newspaper advertorials. We remember searching for the newspaper every Sunday to see our work published.

Our process of writing advertorial is more of medical journalism style. While brainstorming with the doctors we used to study their way of working, their unique proposition for patient care and services the hospital was offering. We used to read about other hospitals with similar services for the patients. But at the end of the day, we were utilizing this project as a tool to create more awareness amongst people for diseases and their treatment modalities.

Awareness among people is a very important key to the care and cure process, we use this word 'awareness' so often that we normally tend to overlook the need of it and presume that people are aware of their health. But when we just ask basic health questions to random people, we are always surprised by the response. People are really not aware of very basic health knowledge, and it has nothing to do with the socioeconomic status or educational status of a person. We also assume that people those who have access to the internet are more aware. There is so much of information available on digital media that it becomes more confusing what to refer and what not to.

If we talk about the advertorials that we have written, it was informative and much needed for people as well as medical professionals to understand the advanced treatment options. We did the translation in regional Indian languages. Through newspaper, we were able to reach out to people who cannot access the health information through the internet.

Health awareness is still the unmet need; we should not leave any medium unexplored to reach out to more and more people. With one newspaper advertorial, if we can save even one life, we think it is worth putting efforts.

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