Patients can go on-line to learn what to expect

The Web is proving to be an effective way to communicate to patients preoperatively, particularly for same-day surgery patients. Program managers suggest:

• Make sure the logistics, such as times and locations relevant to the procedure, are included.

• Include information on what food and medications are allowed before surgery.

• Understand the security implications of wanting medical evaluations online and that such an advancement requires additional resources.

• Pain management is a useful topic, as is wound care. Pain management can encompass what a patient can expect from different anesthetics, as well as how to manage pain postoperatively.

• Consider providing information on some of the most common procedures, if the volume justifies it.

• Photographs and biographies of the staff patients are likely to encounter often are popular. Make sure to get waivers from those involved.

• Make sure to keep the Web information and printed materials consistent, particularly if you provide on-line versions of patient education material.

• The Web function may be administered as a marketing function, and thus not adding any costs to clinical units.

• Use your existing experience to respond to the most frequently asked questions about your most common procedures.

• Don't use the Web to replace crucial personal contact, such as the call to the person the day before surgery.

Denise M. Goldsmith, RN, MS, MPH, Program Manager of Nursing Informatics, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Ave., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail: dgoldsmi@ caregroup. harvard.edu.

Tammy Krueger, BSN, LNC, Executive Director, Bay Care Ambulatory Services, Bay Care Health System, 2733 S. Ridge Road, Green Bay, WI 54304. Telephone: (920) 490-9046. Fax: (920) 405-8007. E-mail: tkrueger@baycare.net.