How Technology is Improving Patient Education
Patient education is the key to a successful treatment plan. Providing accurate and quality information is the first step in giving a patient control over their condition. It can also ease clinician-patient communication and encourage active involvement in patient’s own health management. It will also enhance the compliance and improve the outcome of the disease. The problem – as many studies have shown – is that patients do not remember this information and are often confused by the details they receive. More and more, digital and analog patient education tools are being used to address this.
Traditionally, educating patients meant scrawling quick advice on notepads or distributing educational leaflets. Now many nurses and clinicians are seeking new methods and tools to use with their patients.
The great news is that many digital mediums are already available today and waiting for the right technology to leverage them for patient education. Most hospitals have moved to computerized databases where patient files are accessible without much hassle for health care needs. Additionally, patients also have access to bedside TV, computers, laptops, mobile phones and tablets; all of which can be used as patient education tools.
Mobile phone apps and websites are popular ways of obtaining information. There are hundreds of health websites dedicated to specific disease conditions, written as easy-to-understand explanations. Now patients can also join groups with people who are suffering from the same condition and share experiences and learn from other’s journey. By downloading apps, patient can access all the necessary information on the go and even calculate drug doses for their condition. For patients with chronic diseases, many mobile apps take the form of virtual games that get the patients to do health related tasks for points.
Most recently, interactive patient education tools are becoming a focus as patients can be more involved in the health education process. There is a very interesting health care technology in development at North Eastern University that engage with patients via a virtual “nurse” called Louise. This program provides interactive discussion with patients who are getting discharged. In this particular example, the doctor no longer needs to give health education directly.
Though a great example, patient education tools do not have to be that revolutionary. In fact, it has been proven that showing patients simple illustrations and videos can improve conversations between patient and physician. Videos, animations and diagrams can help patients understand their illness better. With an estimated 65% to 85% of the population classified as visual learners, that should come as no surprise.
Beyond saving time, innovative health care technologies can not only save precious time but can also save money. Interactive patient education tools have been shown to reduce costs by as much as $145 USD per patient according to some studies.
As clinicians, you must strike the right balance between educating patients yourself and relying on self-lead patient education. The amount of misleading information on the Internet can all but erase the benefits of quick but often more effective in-person direction.
Addressing the reality that clinicians’ consultation times are often very limited, reliable patient education tools are a necessity. A clinician should be able to send reliable information, accessible from anywhere, that contain accurate and actionable information.
At iMD Health, the design of our patient education and engagement platform comes from 7 years of patient education experience. Our design marries both form and function; putting the right information in the hands of thousands of clinician users – and by extension their patients – every day. To learn more about how our technology can improve your practice, please visit our website.
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