Re: Last word on warnings?--with a taking my marbles tie-in

Subject: Re: Last word on warnings?--with a taking my marbles tie-in
From: "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Aug 2002 09:42:29 -0400


"Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA> wrote:
>
It's not like patients are
>particularly good about listening to their doctors, after all. If you think
>_we_ have problems getting people to follow our instructions, just be glad
>you're not a doctor. We've got it easy by comparison.
>

Geoff,

You've identified a real and significant business opportunity for out-of-work tech writers.

My significant other had a post-college job as a production editor on a medical journal and it was as a result of encouragement from her boss that she decided to go to medical school. So she happens to be one of those doctors who writes well. As a consequence, she has developed quite a series of patient handouts to explain the limited number of conditions she encounters in her specialty and to guide patients through the self-care and follow-up they require. Her patients love the handouts and they are now in use by other physicians in her specialty, as well.

All of this material merely reinforces what she conveys to her patients orally, but my point is that most of the doctors I've encountered have very little of this kind of material. Usually it's a brusque sentence while I'm in the room and an illegible scrawl at the bottom of an all-purpose patient instruction form with a couple of boxes checked. If my condition is one for which there is a printed brochure furnished by a drug maker, the doctor may hand me that, too.

So I don't see the problem as one of patients not listening but one of doctors not communicating important technical information in a way that their audience can internalize it. And that, it seems to me, is a golden opportunity for some entrepreneurial tech writer to exploit.

Let me be clear: I don't think there is a big opportunity with primary care providers (PCPs). They have to deal with too many different conditions and they don't get paid all that well these days. I think there is a real opportunity, though, with specialists. So call up your PCP and ask for referrals! (They're used to that, right?) Specialists deal with a limited range of conditions and many would probably welcome a chance to get their handouts spruced up, edited, or finally written in the first place.

Dick

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