Offering credible patient education in the internet age

Jun 16, 2020
Offering credible patient education in the internet age

Living in the information age is a double-edged sword for people living with chronic health conditions and cancer. The enormity of this situation has never been brought into sharper focus than during this global coronavirus pandemic, which weighs additional challenges into the mix in ensuring health information is both digestible and, importantly, credible.

That’s according to Andrea Eidelman, Chief Executive Officer at stomach cancer patient advocacy group, Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer (DDF).

“People are thirsty for knowledge,” she says, adding that it is the responsibility of groups like the foundation to ensure patient information is credible and health literacy appropriate.

“We have updated our website in the past year and are finding that people are coming to us early in their cancer journey. They are getting their diagnosis, and within a couple of weeks they are on the internet looking for support,” she adds.

“When people Google ‘stomach cancer’, they are often faced with reams of information and statistics that can leave them distressed,” Andrea explains.

Because of this, DDF works with a medical advisory board to ensure the information it offers through its website, webinars, and symposia is not only cutting-edge but accurate and up to date. “We provide information from the top scientists, researchers, organizations, and physicians in the field,” Andrea notes.

Making information accessible

Accessibility of information, both in terms of geography and understandability, also needs careful attention.

To this end, DDF provides live digital access to all educational events. It adds recordings of webinars and symposia to its website and shares these through its social media channels, so they are readily accessible.

The team also works with physicians and researchers who provide content to help them understand the patient and caregiver audience.

“Most patients have a difficult time understanding the medical jargon presented by physicians during the symposia and webinars,” Andrea comments. “Therefore, we make information more digestible so patients can understand the information and meaning of the presentations.”

Topics are decided according to patients’ needs, from nutrition to psychosocial support, palliative care and clinical trials. On top of this, the foundation offers an interactive approach to education.

“At symposiums, for example, we have panels where patients who are there in person or are taking part online can ask the experts specific questions,” she notes. “It’s not just the doctor presenting slides for an hour. It’s about engagement.”

“That’s very important, and it makes sure that patients get both value and knowledge,” Andrea says. “Every patient, family and situation is different, so it’s important to be informed about stomach cancer so patients can participate in shared decision-making, particularly in these challenging times.”

Offering credible patient education in the internet age

Andrea Paula Eidelman is the Chief Executive Officer of Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer. Andrea brings a lifelong commitment to advocating for those in need, and has been actively involved in the South Florida community serving on boards and committees of various local medical charities.

A lawyer, with a degree from St. Thomas University, Andrea spent most of her legal career relentlessly advocating for the rights of underprivileged populations, specifically the rights of foster care children and children in need of legal representation due to abandonment, abuse, or neglect by biological parents.

While at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Andrea oversaw the local legal aid program, which provided legal services and representation to thousands of underprivileged residents. She went on to provide children’s advocacy at Legal Aid Services of Broward, where she headed the Permanency Project and advocated for the rights of hundreds of children in Florida’s foster care system, assisting them in obtaining permanent homes outside of the system with committed loving caregivers. In addition, she worked in the Kinship Project at Legal Aid of Broward where she collaborated with private and public partners to assist relatives in adopting and obtaining custody of children who would otherwise end up in the fate of the state’s dependency system.

Andrea’s vision as an advocate for children helped guide numerous community organizations including Kids in Distress, Harmony, Memorial Hospital, Broward Health, and Mental Health and Associates to accomplish the goals of the grant funder Children’s Services Council. In addition, she worked as a case manager for Health and Rehabilitative Services in Miami-Dade County assisting terminally ill HIV/AIDS patients in obtaining support services.

Andrea’s non-professional life has also been committed to advocating for those in need. She has served on the board of the American Lung Association and Bellas Kinship Group. Andrea was a dedicated DDF volunteer prior to becoming its Executive Director.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina,  Andrea grew up in Miami, Florida and is a graduate of the University of Miami. She is married to Dr. Frank Eidelman and they reside in Fort Lauderdale Florida with their cat Toby.

Leave a Reply