Lower-cost ways to create patient teaching tools

Software solves inventory and storage problems

Imagine creating personalized education materials to hand a patient before she walks out the door. If an expectant mom mentions she’s going shopping for an infant carrier after this afternoon’s appointment, you could sit down at your computer and produce a fact sheet in two minutes.

Doesn’t that beat rummaging through your literature stash, only to find the last one’s gone? With a computer software patient teaching package, you can eliminate the hassle of finding sources and ordering piecemeal. You’ll pay a flat fee for an assortment of women’s health topics and receive periodic updates.

Nurse practitioner Chris Backlund, RN, finds printing patient instruction sheets on demand eliminates storage problems in her OB/GYN private medical practice office in Minneapolis. "I don’t have room for copies of everything I want to give patients. This way, I use them as needed."

Such tools might be just one component in an educational program for patients with complex diseases such as lupus, notes Karen Schuss Rowinsky, director of the Jane C. Stormont Women’s Health Center in Topeka, KS, and board member of the Chicago-based National Association of Women’s Health Professionals. Nonetheless, they serve useful functions across the spectrum from the clinical setting to community education programs, Schuss Rowinsky says.

"As a patient educator, I know how time- consuming it is to maintain a pamphlet file. Computerized patient education materials would be more cost-efficient than having a staff member constantly ordering and storing the pamphlets."

Three companies spoke with Women’s Health Center Management about their software packages. Each provides patient teaching systems that can be installed by someone with basic computer skills. All of them offer a comprehensive selection of primary care topics.

The table above offers a glimpse of the highlights of each, while the box at right includes contact information for the software vendors listed in the table.