The value of using digital technology to share information with patients is not news, which is why it has increasingly been at the forefront of healthcare and technology investments by healthcare providers for the last decade.
And if you are responsible for the support of patients throughout their episodes of care, then you are likely already familiar with the list of efficiency and outcome-focused benefits associated with digital patient education:
- Cost savings[12,13]
- Improved quality of life
- Reduced patient anxiety[1,2]
- Increased patient satisfaction[2,3,4,5]
- Fewer readmissions
- Reduced opioid consumption[7,8]
- Reduced phone calls for clinical staff[9,10]
- Shorter length of stay in hospital
But despite the excellent research that has been done, most technology offered to date has primarily focused on building ways to efficiently distribute information, which isn't the same as patient education. It may seem like a slight distinction, but making information available to patients, no matter how timely, is not the same as teaching them something that will change their behavior, empower them, or improve their ability to make good decisions.
Here are key examples where the "information sharing approach" falls short:
- The one-size-fits-all problem: The patient is given one-size-fits-all content, which makes them question whether it applies to their unique situation.
- The redundancy problem: The patient is given access to a digital repository of content and this information is an exact copy of content that is available on a website or in a paper handout, so it doesn't really provide additional value.
- The inconsistency problem: The patient is given access to a content set that is provided by the platform provider that differs from the information that the clinic provides.
- The overwhelm problem: The patient is directed towards a "content buffet", with a wide variety of topics and media types, but it's difficult for patients to discern what's most important.
Result: Your patient is not feeling prepared, has unclear expectations, and is not confident in their knowledge or how to contribute to a successful outcome. Your patient starts making regular calls to your office, or worse, opts out of participating.
So how do you know your patients are deeply engaged in the right ways?
Good data will show you:
- Family members are actively participating throughout the episode of care
- Patients are frequently referring to personalized content
- Patients are quick to respond to surveys, polls, and other time-sensitive activities
And how do you know your education is working?
- Patients are making good decisions throughout and beyond the episode of care
- Patients are dealing successfully with their own unique situations and challenges
- Patients are asking great questions and they're satisfied with the answers
- Patients are promoting the benefits of treatment to their network
And, that list of efficiency and outcome-focused benefits such as a reduction in opioid use, hospital readmissions, phone calls, and more, will follow.
So how do you avoid the trap of generic information sharing and provide a way to instill confidence and empower patients? It starts with establishing a vision for what a patient should experience with your practice, and the vital role education can play in their success. Then find the right technology partner who offers the ability for you to deliver on this vision. Remember: the ability to customize and personalize is critical if you are going to hit the mark with your patients. One size does not fit all.
Our mission is to help organizations like yours deliver exceptional care experiences. If you would like to see how the SparxConnect engagement and collaboration platform can support your clinic's unique vision for patient education, send us a message.
About the author: Mary Pat Hinton
Mary Pat is the CEO and co-founder of Emmetros, the creators of SparxConnect. In 2014, she left her corporate leadership role to pursue her heart-work by launching Emmetros. Driven by a commitment to honor her late grandmother, Mary Pat set out to create technology that prioritizes the independence and dignity of the person receiving care.
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2. Kneuertz, P. J., et al. (2020). Improving patient engagement, adherence, and satisfaction in lung cancer surgery with implementation of a mobile device platform for patient reported outcomes. Journal of Thoracic Disease
3. McDonall, J., et al. (2019). Patient activation intervention to facilitate participation in recovery after total knee replacement (MIME). BMJ Quality and Safety
4. Zhang, X., et al. (2021). A social media-promoted educational community of joint replacement patients using WeChat app. JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth
5. Gham, C. U., et al. (2019). Use of new interactive patient-provider software improves patient satisfaction and outcomes. Arthroplasty Today6 Zheng, Q.-Y., et al. Modern instant messaging platform for postoperative follow-up of patients after total joint arthroplasty may reduce re-admission rate. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research
6. Zheng, Q.-Y., et al. Modern instant messaging platform for postoperative follow-up of patients after total joint arthroplasty may reduce re-admission rate. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research
7. Pronk, Y., et al. (2020). Effectiveness of a mobile ehealth app in guiding patients in pain control and opiate use after total knee replacement. JMIR, Mhealth and Uhealth,
8. Padilla, J. A., et al. (2019). A novel opioid-sparing pain management protocol following total hip arthroplasty: effects on opioid consumption, pain severity, and patient-reported outcomes. The Journal of Arthroplasty
9. Campbell, K., et al. (2019). A novel, automated text-messaging system is effective in patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery
10. Huynh, B., et al. (2020). Patient and provider perceptions on utilizing a mobile technology platform to improve surgical outcomes in the perioperative setting. Journal of Surgical Oncology
11. Huang S, et al. Clinical information and guidance shared via a patient infotainment system can reduce hospital stay and maintain 2 medical quality for total knee arthroplasty: a single-blinded quasi-randomised controlled trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2020; April; 104;103440
12. Moulton, L. S., Evans, P. A., Starks, I., & Smith, T. (2015). Preoperative education prior to elective hip arthroplasty surgery improves postoperative outcomes. International orthopaedics, 39(8), 1483–148.
13. Danielsen, A. K., Burcharth, J., & Rosenberg, J. (2013). Patient education has a positive effect in patients with a stoma: a systematic review. Colorectal disease: the official journal of the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland, 15(6), e276–e283.