A few favorite web sites for patient education

PEMs share their best Internet finds

The Internet is a wealth of information for people in all professions. So it is not surprising that patient education managers have favorite web sites they turn to time and time again.

In this article Patient Education Management provides insight into a few sites recommended by people in the field of patient education.

Cezanne Garcia, MPH, CHES, manager of patient and family education services at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, says Medlineplus (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/) is a web site she uses on a regular basis because she says it is committed to continuous improvement and features more than 700 topics on conditions; diseases and wellness; prescriptions; over-the-counter medicines; and herbs and supplements.

The information includes pictures and diagrams as well as spellings and definitions of medical words. It has current health news and press announcements and leads to doctors, dentists, hospitals, local health services, libraries, and organizations. There also are links to international sites.

Another site Garcia frequently visits is Health Information Translations (http://healthinfotranslations.com/), a collaborative initiative between three health care organizations in Columbus, Ohio, to improve health education for limited English proficiency patients.

The site is intended as a resource for health care professionals who teach health education to patients with limited English skills. Teaching sheets on a variety of health topics are available with an accompanying English version. Languages provided include Chinese, French, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Ukrainian.

Mary Paeth, MBA, RD, patient/community education coordinator at the Southwest Washington Medical Center Education Department in Vancouver, WA, has a long list of favorite web sites.

Paeth likes a web site designed by United Health Foundation (www.unitedhealthfoundation.org). The goal of the site is to provide evidence-based health information to help consumers make informed health decisions. There are a variety of educational tips, such as how to evaluate medical resources on the web and how to be a smarter patient.

Ask Me 3 (www.askme3.org/) is a health literacy web site with tools for providers, patients, and staff within health care organizations. "It has very practical ideas to help staff do a better job. There are great materials that are easy to use and good tips on how to use them," says Paeth.

Multiple formats available

For working with multicultural patients, Paeth uses the Health Information Translations web site, like Garcia. She also recommends Healthy Roads Media (www.healthyroadsmedia.org/), which provides educational materials in a variety of formats as well as languages including Arabic, Bosnian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Khmer, and Vietnamese. Subjects covered include abuse, asthma, cancer, and diabetes.

According to Healthy Roads Media, various formats are provided so people will have access to information in diverse situations. They write: "For example, someone who has difficulty with written materials may want to watch the on-line video or listen to the audio but also have a handout to take home so they can share with family members. An outreach worker who does not have access to the Internet on home visits may want to bring along handouts but also have downloaded multimedia files on her laptop that she can share during the visit."

Interactive health tutorials on Medline Plus (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorial.html) use animated graphics and easy-to-read language to explain diseases and conditions and tests and diagnostic procedures. People can also listen to the tutorial. The health education resources are from the Patient Education Institute.

"What better way to meet the needs of the visual and audio learner than by having it as a movie or a handout," says Paeth.

For literacy help and answers whenever she needs them, Paeth turns to the Plain Language Service (www.pls.cpha.ca/), a part of the Canadian Public Health Association's National Literacy and Health Program.

Paeth recommends the Oregon Council of Healthcare Educators web site (www.oche.us/index.htm), which provides members access to each other through e-mail and the bulletin board. "We can network and share materials and you don't need to be in the same town to benefit," she explains.

The web site maintained by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (www.ihi.org/ihi) has cutting-edge information for hospital improvements, says Paeth.

To obtain health facts and information at a glance Paeth logs on to a site produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation (www.statehealthfacts.kff.org/cgi-bin/healthfacts.cgi) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site (www.cdc.gov).

She also recommends the web site at her own health care facility, Southwest Washington Medical Center (www.swmedicalcenter.com/) which has a multitude of educational materials available to anyone.

Laura Gebers, BSN, RN, BC, PCS programs health education coordinator at Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, NJ, is the adviser to a group, iAround.org, that oversees a web site for people newly diagnosed with lung cancer. The goal of those who developed the web site was to provide a high quality resource guide so that the lay person could quickly and easily master the information to help him or her achieve the best possible outcome with treatment.

The director of the site is Tina Lee, a three-year survivor of lung cancer. Copy on the site states: "As lung cancer survivors and families we remember too well how devastating it can be when you are told you have cancer. To make things worse, you have to make a slew of critical decisions, especially the initial treatment plan. However, if you are not expert in lung cancer it is very difficult, if not impossible, to acquire essential yet sufficient information and make your right choices."

The site has information on lung cancer treatment, clinical trials as well as support information that covers such topics as the financial impact, insurance coverage, and hospice and home care.

The group's motto is, "We find the best lung cancer resources so you don't have to."

(Editor's Note: Do you have a favorite web site? If you have found a site that helps you in your job as a patient education coordinator or manager please let us know. E-mail suggestions to Susan Cort Johnson at suscortjohn@frontiernet.net and include PEM favorite web site as the subject.)

Sources

To discuss making use of these web sites contact:

  • Cezanne Garcia, MPH, CHES, manager, patient and family education services, University of Washington Medical Center, 1959 N.E. Pacific St., Box 356052, Seattle, WA 98195-6052. Phone: (206) 598-8424. E-mail: ccgarcia@u.washington.edu.
  • Laura Gebers, BSN, RN, BC, PCS programs health education coordinator, Deborah Heart and Lung Center, 200 Trenton Road, Browns Mills, NJ 08015. Phone: (609) 893-1200, ext. 5258. E-mail: gebersl@deborah.org.
  • Mary Paeth, MBA, RD, patient/community education coordinator, Education Department, Southwest Washington Medical Center, P.O. Box 1600, 400 NE Mother Joseph Place, Vancouver, WA 98668. Phone: (360) 514-6788. E-mail: mpaeth@swmedctr.com.