Patient in Charge
Continued success demands change, development, evolution—and of course—lots more work.
Jennifer Thompson’s background in science and sales and marketing sparked an idea: a patient advocacy magazine for healthcare consumers (and isn’t that all of us?), designed to make them partners with medical professionals in their own physical and mental well-being. In short, as Thompson puts it, “to empower patients by giving them the information they need to become the captains of their personal healthcare teams. We want to educate and inspire our readers and give them the tools and confidence they need to take charge of their own healthcare.”
According to Thompson, “The days of the paternalistic relationship between doctors and patients are over.”
So in November of 2009, Thompson shared her idea with her friend Lynn Osborne, a graphic designer. And by January of 2010, Patient In Charge was born, a remarkably short gestation for such an ambitious project. Thompson is now publisher and Osborne is art director. Patrick Sherman acts as editor-in-chief.
They recruited medical professionals to provide the content for the magazine, sold advertising space and, literally, drove up and down streets looking for places to distribute Patient In Charge. According to Thompson, “The response has been phenomenal.” The magazine is currently distributed free in medical and dental offices and other healthcare facilities as well as at Meijer, YMCA locations and Court Ones. Readers can also subscribe.
Thompson has found that medical professionals are excited about sharing their expertise through the magazine and helping their patients become more proactive. As Thompson says, “Our magazine gives them a voice to talk with patients and explain things that they may not have time for in the busy day-to-day of their offices. Healthcare is changing; doctors recognize that and want their patients to be more involved in their own care.”
There is a chief medical editor on staff and an editorial board of specialists in all facets of healthcare who guide the staff as they prepare the magazine each month. Everything printed in the magazine is reviewed and medically evaluated by these professionals to assure that the information is medically sound.
Since the beginning, they have published both a print and online version of the magazine. Sometimes, an article online will go into more detail or include links to other sites of interest. They occasionally publish Web exclusives.
They currently distribute in Lansing and Grand Rapids and, through their partnerships with organizations like the American Heart Association, the Cancer Society and the Juvenile Diabetes Association, statewide.
According to Osborne, “When we started, we hoped that we would succeed and grow, but we’ve done even better than we anticipated.”
As part of their mission, they donate ad space to their statewide partners and help them raise funds. Thompson says, “We started this venture to help people be healthier and part of our goal is to aid others in their efforts as well.”
According to Editor in Chief Patrick Sherman, “We make sure that all of our content is easily understandable to the lay audience. We may have to sometimes translate medical language into simpler terms. If we do edit, we send it back to the author for final sign-off. This safeguard, along with review by our board, assures that everything we print is accurate.”
He continues, “We try to keep things fresh and new, and we use social media to build community.”
Thompson adds, “We added QR codes in the magazine as of the beginning of 2011. These are barcodes used to encode information. Using a downloadable app for a smartphone, iPhone or Blackberry, people can link to content we provide.” Asked whether they receive feedback from their readers, Thompson answers simply, “Tons.”
Osborne emphasizes that all their content is from local practitioners, people known and trusted by the readers of the magazine. Often, readers will mention that they picked up the magazine at their doctor’s office and found an article written by him or her in the issue they are reading.
Thompson says, “We also try to keep all of our dollars local. The magazine is printed by Spartan Printing, for example. We ask the community to support us and we try to support them back.”
Thompson, Osborne and Sherman, as well as their other staff members, are dedicated to patient education and patient empowerment. They hope (and plan) for growth as they continue to carry their message to an expanding audience. If past performance is any indication, the sky’s the limit!
Patient in Charge
Jennifer Thompson, Publisher
Lynn Osborne, Art Director
Patrick Sherman, Editor-in-Chief
809 Center St. Suite 4B