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5 Reasons to Educate your Patients' Digitally

It should come as no surprise to healthcare practitioners that patients’ retain very little of what is discussed in a medical or clinical appointment. How little we wonder? Studies have shown that as much as 86% of the information a patient receives is forgotten by the time the patient reaches the parking lot (Mayo clinic).
As physiotherapists, we have heard from our patients time and time again that they either forgot the instructions, the instructions weren’t clear, or they didn't understand what they were meant to be doing. Or when we ask the patient to show us how they are completing their home exercises, their technique is completely different from how they were initially instructed.

Assuming we are taking the time to educate our patients, why exactly does communication break down? Research shows that patients don’t absorb medical information easily and are often wrong about what they remember.

Historically, we may have used verbal communication, paper hand-outs, or dismal stick figure drawings to communicate. Yet we still find our patients coming back and not understanding what it is they are meant to be doing, which ultimately slows their progress and hinders their outcomes.

Current methods aren’t effective - verbal communication and paper handouts don't cut it anymore.

We have witnessed how technology offers growing and efficient ways for us to interact and share information in every facet of our lives. It should be no different with our patients. There are a variety of tools available to practitioners like healthSwapp that help us better engage our patients by using customizable interactive technology that is easy for patients to replay and digest, making it more likely that they will grasp the information and apply it to managing their own health.

Here are 5 reasons to go digital with patient education materials:

  1. Digital patient education materials allow patients to interact and learn at their own pace, refer back for clarification, and engage with content in a visual and audio form, increasing their likelihood of information retention.
  2. When patients understand instructions and apply advice properly, they typically get better! This leads to improved outcomes and ultimately empowers the patient with a positive healthcare experience.
  3. The more the patient understands what it is they need to do, the less time you need to spend repeating the same information. Using digital tools reduces redundancy and repetition, and ultimately improves your workflow.
  4. Patients’ expect digital content and delivery: use this as an opportunity to leap frog your competition by offering a better service to your patients.
  5. The patient-practitioner relationship has already gone digital. You know that patient - the one who comes into a clinical session and mentions their visit with “Dr. Google.” Rather than letting technology substitute the patient-practitioner encounter, we have the opportunity to use technology to enhance and modernize the patient-practitioner encounter.

Holly Mitchell BA, MSc(PT)

Holly is a physiotherapist and disruptive healthcare technology advocate with 10 years of clinical experience in both Canada and Australia. She graduated from McMaster University with a Master of Science in Physiotherapy and is on the Embodia Quality Assurance team for continuing education courses. Her area of interest is the connection between planetary and human health and the innovative potential health technology has in mitigating the environmental impacts of the healthcare industry. Holly currently consults with big employers on business opportunities for virtual injury prevention services and industrial sports medicine programs. Her free time is spent figuring out what exactly goes into the recycling bin, chasing her toddler son, figuring out adult ballet, kayaking, and camping in the great Canadian wilds. 

Twitter: @hmitchellTO 

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