Without effective, dynamic communications with patients, health professionals and between all the partners in pharmacovigilance, the system cannot work and the vision of safer use of medicines cannot be achieved
UMC makes a special contribution to raising awareness with its Take&Tell campaign, publications and training, an active presence on social media, in collaborations with patient organisations and much more. Communications are often limited by constraints of time and money in busy organisations, but they need to be prioritised by all professionals in this field. We know that the aims of pharmacovigilance – the safer use of medicines and the protection of patients – cannot be achieved until everyone in healthcare, including patients, is vigilant and engaged at every stage, and actively involved in the systems and relationships that can reduce and manage risk. We know that public and professional awareness and commitment are far from universal. There’s a long road ahead for communications in pharmacovigilance!
If you and your health provider are to make the wisest decisions for your health, you require access to the best possible information regarding your illness and possible treatments; you need to know the key questions to ask, and your health provider needs to be attentive to you and well informed. You need to be engaged in the most active kind of individual professional communication with your health provider and that has to be within the context of the best possible information and communication in pharmacovigilance and healthcare in general. Safer use of medicines relies on a whole network of useful communications and active relationships. If things go wrong, you and your health provider must know what to do, including reporting the problem to the authorities. The solutions lie in open and effective communication and in the provision of comprehensive information that meets your wishes; in your asking questions and insisting you get the answers you need.
Social media, internet, TV, newspapers, friends and family all influence our knowledge and opinions. Media scares about drugs or diseases often have a disproportionate and sometimes negative impact; they need to be managed swiftly and expertly.
We all need reliable sources of information that can help us make the best decisions. We need to be in a critical frame of mind to ask questions and to insist that the information or evidence we are offered is trustworthy, current and complete. We need to teach everyone, especially children, about using medicines intelligently, and how to avoid harm. Authorities need to be in constant dialogue with their communities, providing information, anticipating and finding out what people want to know, using methods that exactly fit the needs and abilities of populations.
UMC is active on social media, bringing information of all kinds to a wider audience.
Ministries of health and drug regulators, along with national pharmacovigilance centres, WHO and UMC have major communications challenges that they must address if the needs of the community are to be met and if patients are to have the best information when they need it.
Everyone must have access to high quality, up-to-date information, tailored to their abilities and preferences, about medicines and their use, and about healthcare in general, and about ways to promote health and prevent harm:
Many countries have developed creative ways of communicating these complex messages and content, but agile, engaging systems are the exception; good information about the outcomes of therapy is a neglected priority and still rare.