Health care Providers and Specialists

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Clinicians and specialists who deal with your condition can be very helpful. They can help you find affected individuals to become members. Clinicians cannot give you the name and contact information of affected individuals. This violates patient confidentiality. But if you give them information that is easy to distribute, such as a brochure, they can tell their patients about you. Don't depend on busy clinicians to make a pitch for you—make sure your materials explain themselves. Try designing an eye-catching postcard or brief notice that invites individuals to contact your organization. Then they can receive your patient packet directly from you. This serves a number of functions—you get the interested individual's contact information, and you also can centralize your materials (keeping the costs down and availability easier to manage).

Three common ways to connect with clinicians are:

  • Direct mailings
  • Professional journals
  • Annual medical or research meetings (international, national, regional and state, of professional associations)

Mailings

One effective method for recruiting affected individuals is direct mailing to a health care provider. You can usually purchase, for about $200 and up, lists of members from the medical and professional societies. Prepare a direct mailing that includes information clinicians can distribute to their patients.

Remember to tell the health care provider if you are creating a registry. This is important because a clinician might not think his or her patient needs support, but he will understand the need for all patients to be registered in one central registry and will help you in that endeavor.

Many doctors’ offices are still not using digitized databases for patient information. Thus they are often unable to sort their patient database with reference to your condition. A health care provider may have to wait until a patient returns before she can offer him your materials. Consider sending a postcard announcement when you have a small bit of news (maybe at the same time you send out press releases) —use any reasonable excuse to keep your organization in the clinician's mind with a periodic mailing.

Medical Journals

Medical journals can provide information about your organization to health providers and researchers. Look for journals that relate to your condition. For example, if your condition affects the neurological system, consider putting a notice in a journal associated with that specialty. There may be a cost involved in placing an ad or notice about your organization. If your goal is recruiting members, you may want to target a clinical journal, but don't neglect the research journals—various laboratories have registries of small groups of individuals or families affected by the condition. Although researchers cannot release individuals’ names, they can inform the study participants of your organization.

What kind of information can you submit to a medical journal? Acceptable items include announcement of a registry, a research or medical meeting, a request for grant applications, or the announcement of a research project with a call for participants. See the section on educational functions for more information about using journal articles to promote your organization.

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