It Takes a Village
Given this environment, few disagree that more in-language and culturally relevant healthcare education is needed, especially
for the less acculturated Hispanic immigrants. But in order to educate effectively, it is also important to understand the
cultural framework for decision making in the Hispanic community. Reports the National Council of La Raza primer Latino Health Beliefs: "When ill or injured, Hispanic people frequently consult with other family members.... Important decisions are made as a
group." The less acculturated the person, the more important the role of the familial network is to guide and determine healthcare
courses of action, especially since there is less in-language access to health information. Therefore, educating the community
around the patient can be enormously critical to affecting the actual patient.
Within the Hispanic community, healthcare education can be more effective when it is presented in a clear problem–solution
format. What we have found useful is the visualization of discomfort with a linear path to the resolution, with an emphasis
on the emotional benefit of relief. Clear visualization of symptoms and graphics to illustrate efficacy can also help, particularly
for individuals not yet conversant in English. In one instance, we found that a simply illustrated chart showing a cross section
of the body and how it was affected helped communications with the patient.
Keeping communications simple, clear, and concise also helps establish credibility, a key to building trust, which is paramount
with the Hispanic consumer.
A direct call to action also can help produce the desired outcome. For example, in a commercial spot for one of our clients,
different people in the sufferer's circle of family and friends emphatically tell him, "This isn't normal. Go to the doctor."
In addition to the classic in-office materials for physician and patient, we have learned that office staff should also be
kept in mind when developing material. Often doctors rely on their staff to provide language support and further explanation
of diagnosis and instructions for compliance. In many offices, particularly in areas with high Hispanic-immigrant populations,
a Spanish-speaking staff person is called in to talk to a Hispanic patient who has been struggling to communicate. Keeping
this office staff in mind when creating a DTP communications program can help with the ultimate success of the effort.
Moreover, materials that involve the family in the compliance of the diagnosed patient can be useful. A board game or interactive
cards can engage the family in a familiar and accessible way to learn about issues that otherwise might not be considered
if they were presented in a conventional medical context.
Considering the current challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry (regulatory constraints, drug development costs, patent
expirations, and lower ROIs), patient loyalty and compliance are incredibly important. By better understanding the rapidly
expanding Hispanic market and by tailoring programs to fit this burgeoning population, pharmaceutical marketers can help business
performance while improving patient care.
Jane Finney is group account director at Bromley Communications. She can be reached at email@example.com