The trusted source for
healthcare information and
iPads make inroads with patient education
Educators find ways to integrate technology
Patient education managers must stay abreast of the latest technology for delivering patient education to involve the learner and provide individualizing teaching to meet the needs of the learner, says Fran London, MS, RN, a health education specialist at The Emily Center, Phoenix (AZ) Children's Hospital.
"Technology can do both," she says. "The key is knowing your audience and using appropriate technology to reach that audience."
The use of iPads for teaching is one of the most beneficial recent trends in technology, says London. Conversations between a patient and clinician can be enhanced with media, and the iPad provides quick access to illustrations and videos, she says.
The Monday after the iPad was released to the public, educators at Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando began using them, says Tim Burrill, MBA, assistant administrator.
"We adopted that technology up front," Burrill says. "The iPad is very simple to use, so we were able to grab onto that technology the minute it came out."
Educational videos with animated characters produced in-house, that describe magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans, were loaded on to the electronic device to prepare children for the procedure. Also photos of the surgery suite were downloaded. These photos previously were reviewed via a picture book.
"The technology became a way to really grab children's attention," says Burrill. It is used by child life specialists to educate children and teens about procedures. Also it is used to distract children during a procedure. Children as young as 2 can be distracted with activities on the iPad, he says.
Burrill says hospital staff is researching what distraction games and tools are available for the device as well as educational opportunities. Currently, the best technology for education at the children's hospital is its on-demand television system, he says. The hospital contracts with Bethesda, MD-based GetWellNetwork for on-demand patient education.
Possibilities for education seem endless
There has been lots of excitement about the iPad, a handheld computing device produced by Apple, since it made its debut in April 2010.
The web site KevinMD.com, described as "social media's leading physician voice," posted an article by Joseph Kim, MD, MPH, titled "10 ways an Apple iPad can help doctors improve patient care." At the top of the list was "teaching patients."
The author encouraged physicians to leverage the multimedia resources on an iPad to teach patients about specific diseases and conditions. The resources mentioned as examples were patient videos, animations, diagrams, and charts.
One company that is well known for its written patient education materials announced it is considering the development of programs for the iPad and smartphones. Leah A. Scaramuzzo, MSN, RN-BC, AOCN, associate director of nursing and patient education at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, was quick to take advantage of the iPad and Nook, an electronic reader, by providing them on a loan basis to patients through the facility's Resource and Learning Center. Four adult iPads, two pediatric iPads, and two colored Nooks give patients who come to the clinics for treatment access to books, movies, games, and the Internet.
Patient education managers and coordinators will begin to stay abreast of the development of applications (apps) for electronic devices, such as the iPad, as something to deliver good education, Scaramuzzo says.
When patients began to search for information on the Internet, educators began to take steps to make sure they accessed web sites that were reliable, credible, up-to-date, and authoritative by providing links or information on how to assess a site, Scaramuzzo says. "I think the same holds true for apps," she says. "We need to research what apps are out there to determine if they are credible,
up-to-date, and safe for patients to use. We are in the process of doing that." She is checking out iCANcer by Naomi R. Bartley, a free download app for iPads, iPhones, and iPod touch that helps patients manage their cancer.
Determine if teaching is improved
Technology can be incorporated into patient education in many ways to improve teaching. Often these technological advances provide additional ways of providing education or help solve barriers to education, such as a shortage of time.
The Cancer Prevention Center at MD Anderson in Houston, TX, keeps all teaching videos, which are produced in-house, in a folder available on desktop computers in each exam room. Once the nurse has met with the patient, he or she starts the appropriate video for the patient to watch while waiting for the physician. For example, in the dermatology skin screening clinic, every patient watches a video on proper sun protection and how to perform a self-exam of the skin. These educational videos run between five and seven minutes.
Lorianne Classen, MPH, CHES, senior health education specialist in the Patient Education Office at MD Anderson, says, "These videos provide patients the basic information on the subject in a clear and consistent manner across providers. The doctor can focus on answering patient specific questions and clarify information, instead of having to start from the beginning."
The videos are developed by an in-house department and can be purchased by other healthcare facilities. (For more information about the videos, see resources below) Typically the Patient Education Office develops the scripts and monitors the development to make sure the videos are patient appropriate.
Like any teaching tool, whether a handout or video, technology must be assessed to determine if it meets the educational goal. How do you determine the value of technology for patient education? "It should be judged on its ability to impact health outcomes," says London. The key is using technology to actively involve the learner in the process, she adds.
For more information about the use of technology in patient education, contact: