A dearth of healthcare literacy underscores importance of online patient education in reproductive genetic therapies, says Vanguard Communications CEO in address to international conference
Tel Aviv, Israel, May 28, 2018 – Healthcare consumers typically are starkly unprepared to make potentially life-changing decisions about genetic therapies in reproductive medicine, placing extra patient-education burdens on physicians and scientists, Vanguard Communications CEO Ron Harman King said in a presentation today to the first International Summit on Assisted Reproduction and Genetics.
In King’s presentation, titled “Demystifying Genetics for Patients,” he noted that barely 1 of 8 (12 percent) American adults are highly proficient in health literacy, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. “How do healthcare providers bridge the gap?” he asked.
“The best answer is the internet, the most efficient public education system ever,” King said. “Because millions of internet searchers research healthcare topics every day, clinicians can reach the masses with unprecedented efficiency and efficacy through their practices’ websites, blogs, social media accounts, YouTube videos, webinars, and online Q&A sessions.”
Available to every medical practice, these tools can not only boost health literacy and public understanding of complex medical topics; they can also help build trust in providers and even grow their practices, King said.
Ironically, while the public has often greeted breakthroughs in reproductive medical technologies with trepidation, King said, research indicates that the majority defer to physicians and scientists to make the right ethical choices in applications of new genetics technology.
For example, a 2016 poll by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that Americans oppose changing the genes of unborn babies by a factor of 2-to-1. However, a decisive majority (59 percent) support Food and Drug Administration approval of gene therapy, and most (51 percent) believe the decision of whether to allow genetic modifications in unborn children should be left up to scientists, physicians and other technological experts.
“These circumstances offer golden opportunities for health sciences experts to raise public awareness and understanding of modern medicine to everyone’s benefit,” King said, “requiring only modest investments of time and energy.”
About Vanguard Communications
Vanguard Communications is a Denver-based firm specialized in the integration of digital marketing and patient education and communications, with medical practice operational analysis and process improvement. Founded in 1994, Vanguard serves clients coast to coast in small to large private and academic medical practices. Founder and CEO Ron Harman King is author of The Totally Wired Doctor: Social media, the internet & marketing technology for medical practices, a frequent speaker at medical conferences in North America and Europe, and a video blogger for MedPage Today, a continuing medical education website for physicians.