How Large Scale Patient Education Efforts Improve Orthopedic Practices: Q&A With Steven Siwek of Medical Marketing Solutions

Laura Dyrda -  
Steven Siwek on medical marketingMedical Marketing Solutions founder Steven Siwek has launched a new publication, Thrive Health Magazine, focused on patient education and wellness. The first issue was published in the fall of 2012 and the next is scheduled for release in March.
"Our goal is for patients to walk into their next appointments empowered by knowledge about their ailment and hopeful modern medicine solutions," says Mr. Siwek. "This magazine can serve as a resource center for patients online that will include blogs, professional articles and encouragement from the community of people who are hurting to get back into life."

The publication also includes print editions for physician offices. Here, Mr. Siwek discusses the publication and how healthcare is changing in the future.

Q: What makes Thrive unique among the genre of healthcare magazines?

Steven Siwek: There are hundreds of health and wellness magazines out there; what makes us different is that we have been working with medical practices around the country for four years to market their services. We gathered everything that we learned and contemplated how to reach a broader audience and make patient education pieces easier for our clients. The focus of our magazine is really the patient.

We include information about byproducts of conditions, such as how to travel when you are in pain or after surgery. Our approach is getting at the new heart of healthcare: disease prevention. In the past, our healthcare model was based on disease management. Today we are hearing about how we are changing management to prevention. We would have a much healthier society if we focused on prevention.

Q: What type of content does the publication focus on?

SS: In the upcoming issue, you are going to see Phoenix Suns trainer Aaron Nelson. We chose to interview him because the Suns are known for getting old or injured players into the game. These are guys who could have retired, but the training staff is able to give them another year or two. We spoke with him about what it's like treating players and how that relates to people in pain today. He goes over simple things people could be doing to help themselves, such as stretching and nutrition changes.

With any article in Thrive magazine, you are going to get to the nitty gritty about the section you are reading. There are Q&As with physicians, sections for "Ask the Expert," rest and relaxation, and strategies for becoming more active. That's a huge part of disease prevention and management. The more people can educate themselves prior to an injury or disease, the more they can avoid these conditions.

Q: How can physicians use this publication as a tool in their offices?

SS: Throughout history it has been the physician's job to educate patients on ailments and provide necessary steps to restore functionality. However, physicians now have less time to spend with patients, lower reimbursements and increasing expenses. Patients still need to get that education on their condition. With the success and expansion of the internet and vast amounts of information out there, we have the opportunity to provide this education to a large audience all at once.

Without education, patients often misunderstand the issue and what they can do to fight against it. When you have "uneducated" patients, they will get stuck in a healthcare cycle when they could be free if they have access to and are provided the proper education and adherence.

It all comes down to when the patient goes into the appointment; we want them to feel empowered with knowledge regarding their ailment and feel confident in modern medicine to improve their condition.

Q: Many surgeons and practices are creating blogs or writing articles for patients in their community. How does this strategy fit into those marketing efforts?

SS: As a practice, you have to choose whether you want to do your own publication — which could be a four-page newsletter telling patients about treatments — or do you want something more generic that includes education for patients in their practice. That's an obstacle for many providers because they think they want their own, but they must put time and effort into creating it.

They can put the article in their waiting room or in referring physicians' offices. When referring physicians see them, they understand that you have a practice that knows what they are doing — it's about educating the patients.

Q: For providers who are creating their own content, how can they optimize their efforts?

SS: You can do simple things if you don't have a budget. You can spend an hour writing an article in layman's terms about disease prevention or common procedures and print that out on a nice piece of paper. These articles can be placed in the practice lobby. Pick five topics and talk about them, mentioning how the patient should feel after treatment.

There are other mediums they can share the articles through as well. Once you create a piece that is finished and edited, your goal is to get that out there into as many different mediums as possible. You can email it to patients, post it on your blog or website and submit it to other publications so people understand that you do care and want patients to come in empowered.

More Articles on Orthopedic Practices:

5 Key Concepts for Orthopedics Bundled Payments

5 Proactive Steps for Spine Surgeons to Influence Spine Care Policy

10 Orthopedic Surgeons in New leadership Positions

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