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Cancer Education Campaign

Marketing Strategy Helps Cancer Survivors Needs: Hartford Hospital’s Harry and Helen Grey Cancer Center Helps Cancer Survivors

A guide was created that helps new Cancer Program patients, and their families understand the many aspects of cancer treatment and give them complete information about where to go, how to seek assistance, and what resources are available.

Each year, more than 2,500 new patients receive a cancer diagnosis in the Hartford Hospital Cancer Program, one of New England’s largest cancer care providers. Including the facilities of the Helen & Harry Grey Cancer Center, along with a wide array of related medical, surgical, and support services throughout Hartford Hospital and its affiliates, the Cancer Program is comprehensive. In support of a marketing strategy to promote patient advocacy while targeting area physicians and managed care organizations, Hartford Hospital worked with us to create a comprehensive Patient Guide to Services, linking the many facets of the Cancer Program. The goal was to position the Hospital as both patient-focused and a national leader in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and research—ultimately leading to stronger professional relationships with consumers, insurers, and health care practitioners throughout the region.


(Click image to enlarge)

The Guide includes a journal for patients to record their personal observations. For physicians, the guide assists with the initial stages of diagnosis and treatment by addressing many common questions and preparing patients for their experience in the Cancer Program. Managed-care providers see their version of the Guide as part of Hartford Hospital’s ongoing effort to provide efficient, highly effective service and added value. Hartford Hospital health care professionals find it helpful, as well, to have all Cancer Program information organized in one easy-reference manual.

Initial planning meetings with the Cancer Program Director and his staff served to determine four research methods for the project. Since Hartford Hospital wanted to ensure that the Guide would be useful and meaningful to patients, focus groups with patients who had received treatment through the Cancer Program revealed important concerns and questions to address in the Guide; participants also had a role in choosing colors, designs, and the format for the piece.Interviews with representative Cancer Program physicians, nurses, staff, and patients, as well as key Hospital administrators outlined the Cancer Program’s diagnosis, treatment, research,and support services. A tour of the Cancer Center, conducted by the Director, provided an overview of the cancer patient’s experience. And secondary research of current materials written for cancer patients, produced by The National Institutes of Health and other organizations, helped define terms and explain procedures.


Following initial meetings, the tour, and the first patient focus group, we created a copy outline and several preliminary designs. During the second patient focus group, participants evaluated sample copy and voted on design and color choices. With feedback from patients and Cancer Program leaders, FEC refined the copy outline and designs for approval. Following completion of interviews and secondary research, FEC submitted first copy drafts for revisions and executed the layout. Photography consisted of 52 black and white images, including, at the recommendation of focus group participants, an emphasis on patients coping with their illnesses. The project took ten months to complete.


The Guide was requested by the Departments of Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology,and was forwarded to many MD offices. The Hartford Hospital Cancer Program patients who helped plan the Guide said their inclusion demonstrated the Hospital’s commitment to patient advocacy. A follow-up phone survey to 30 patients revealed that the Guide helped patients learn about and gain access to the hospice program; others were led to the nutritionist in the program; some shared it with family members so they could be comfortable with the comprehensive care the hospital was providing; many patients suggested the useful maps simplified getting around the campus; and several patients found the images, support groups, and department-specific information very helpful. The process of creating the Guide helped to unify the Hospital’s many departments delivering cancer care, resulting in improved communication and a better understanding of departmental roles and relationships. Cancer Center Director Andrew L. Salner, M.D. reported that the Guide “received excellent reviews from patients, families, and members of the [Hartford Hospital] medical staff.”

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