Shirlyn Washington keeps her medication at home and at work, so that wherever she is drinking her first cup of coffee in the morning, she remembers to take her medicine.
Deacon Robert Perry makes sure to take his medication with his breakfast each day.
Vicki Brown uses a reminder app on her phone.
Soon these health champions, along with more than 30 other community members, will be sharing their medication reminders in full-color posters made exclusively for their congregations or workplaces.
“We heard from our African American and Latino partners that they wanted to see and hear health messages from people who look like them and come from their community,” said Wade Norwood, chief strategy officer with Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, which is a partner in the campaign. “So we identified community health champions to star in the poster series.”
“By seeing their friends and neighbors on posters, people will be reminded about the importance of taking medication from people they know and trust,” he said.
The customized posters are part of the ongoing My Reminder project, a public health campaign to encourage community members to develop strategies for taking medication. The campaign is supported by the High Blood Pressure Collaborative, a health initiative spearheaded by the region’s largest employers, hospitals and insurance companies and managed through a partnership between Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.
The My Reminder campaign started in January with billboards, transit advertising, radio ads and posters in doctor’s offices, worksites, pharmacies and community settings.
The campaign’s bilingual website, www.myreminder.org and www.mirecordatorio.org, includes links to helpful reminder strategies, such as setting a cellphone alarm, placing a pill bottle by your toothbrush or storing your pillbox in your morning coffee cup.
On the site, people can also get community resources, share their own reminders and request a free pill box. Through the website and the High Blood Pressure Collaborative’s network of partners, the campaign has already distributed more than 1,000 pill boxes.
In the five years that the collaborative has operated in Monroe County, clinical data show that hypertension control has improved 13.7 percent -- progress so dramatic that it attracted national recognition. Yet individuals living in high poverty neighborhoods have not fared as well as residents from more affluent areas.
Residents in the city’s high poverty neighborhoods are 18 percent less likely to have high blood pressure in check those living in more well-off communities, clinical data show. The 2012 Monroe County Adult Health Survey also reported that African Americans are 1.6 times more likely and Latinos 1.1 times more likely than whites to have the chronic illness.
To address these health disparities, the My Reminder project targets ZIP codes in the City of Rochester with the highest rates of high blood pressure. Those ZIP codes also have some of the highest poverty rates in the region.
That’s why the collaborative reached out to partners from churches, barbershops and salons for the customized posters. Many of those who shared reminders in the posters were chosen in partnership with the Interdenominational Health Ministry Coalition, which works with the High Blood Pressure Collaborative on health interventions in churches.
“These customized posters will help people advocate among their friends, neighbors and fellow church goers for healthy choices,” said Becky Lyons, chair of the High Blood Pressure Collaborative and director of Health and Wellness for Wegmans Food Markets. “During focus groups with representative patients, many emphasized the complexity of their lives and their medicines. We feel this campaign can help empower people to make an important change that is within their control.”
Designed by Roberts Communications, My Reminder complements a broader med-adherence campaign by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and builds on research by the local insurer and others. According to a 2014 Excellus BCBS report, the estimated annual cost of treating patients who did not keep their high blood pressure in check with medications was $319 million for six counties in the Finger Lakes region, including Monroe County.
About one-third of adults in the Finger Lakes region have hypertension, defined as blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or more. The condition contributes to one-half of heart disease deaths and is a leading cause of stroke and kidney failure.
Want to share the My Reminder campaign with your organization or group? Call 585-224-3170 to request free English or Spanish posters and learn more about the campaign.