About the Universal Patient Language
The UPL is an evolving set of resources to help communicate to patients about complex topics. It was created in collaboration with patients, caregivers, advocates, healthcare providers, and visual communication experts.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) started to develop the UPL to provide practical tools and guidance to BMS teams who create patient communications. To ensure that the UPL met this goal, BMS led the development of the UPL, working in collaboration with patients, caregivers, and experts inside and outside the pharmaceutical industry.
We have applied the UPL at BMS to selected patient communications, and believe it is valuable for anyone who might create healthcare communications. That is why we have made the UPL available as a public resource. Our hope is to continue collaborating across the healthcare system to improve patient experience.
How We Built the UPL
Systems thinking is an approach to problem-solving that considers the broader environment. In building the UPL, we didn’t think only about patient communications, but about how communications fit into the whole healthcare experience.
Co-creation is a way to incorporate many different stakeholders into the design process. For the UPL, we ran multiple co-creation sessions with a variety of different stakeholders at different stages of development.
Prototyping is making something quickly and inexpensively, so that we can learn what works and refine and improve our work. We used prototyping to build and refine the UPL, and continue to do so as we build new patient communications.
There were two phases in our process for building the UPL.
First, we welcomed our external expert collaborators and internal BMS stakeholders to two different co-creation sessions. The first session focused on defining the initial architecture of the UPL, while the second session emphasized building out the UPL in more detail. Following each co-creation session, we refined prototypes of the UPL and validated them with patient advocacy groups, our expert collaborators from the original co-creation sessions, and various BMS stakeholders. Their feedback helped us identify the elements that were working well, those that weren’t, and those that were missing.
Second, applying the UPL to build patient communications helped us make the UPL a practical resource, and one that is continuously improved. When we apply the UPL to a new challenge area, we host a co-creation session with our collaborators to gain feedback, learn more, and refine the UPL.
Our collaborators include patients, caregivers, nurses, representatives from patient advocacy groups, visual communication experts, and additional subject-matter experts.
Interested in collaborating?