Patient response is just a touch (screen) away

Kiosks merge education and satisfaction surveys

Paper is passé. Instead of handing out brochures and questionnaires, medical groups are now installing kiosks with touch-screen computers that allow for interactive sessions and immediate feedback from patients.

By marrying patient education with short surveys, medical groups are finding that patients are more willing to answer the questions about satisfaction and functional status.

With kiosks, "you’re going to get anonymous, more accurate, more timely information on your practice," says Leslie R. Jebson, manager of specialty clinics operations at the University of Missouri Hospitals and Clinics in Columbia.

Jebson is pilot-testing a kiosk system in an orthopedic clinic. He wanted to know, "Do patients enjoy or retain more patient education information using an interactive format rather than [reading] a pamphlet?" Of the first patients surveyed, 85% said they preferred the computer-based system.

But even without that statistic, Jebson can readily see the advantages of such a system. A nurse selects the clinical content that patients view, which includes video and an interactive presentation regarding the patient’s specific diagnosis and surgical treatment. "It’s truly interactive and personalized," he says.

The program asks patients questions to verify their understanding of the material. Medical groups can add other questions to monitor service quality or to record a specific patient’s functional status. "Everybody struggles to capture unbiased clinical [and satisfaction] information," says Jebson. "This may be the route to go."

In many procedures, it is vital for patients to understand the risk and benefits of a recommended procedure so they can make a decision about their treatment. For physicians, it is equally important to document that the patient received the information and gave informed consent.

That provided an impetus for computer-based learning that could record a patient’s viewing of a patient education program. With the X-Plain system, developed by the Iowa City, IA-based Patient Education Institute in 1994, nurses select the topics for the patient and the patient cannot skip any sections.

But since late 1998, a new product is geared toward more general patient education and surveys. It looks like an ATM booth and can be used in waiting rooms or even in community centers, schools, and shopping malls, says Moe Ajam, PhD, director of operations for the Patient Education Institute. Some sections patients can click on include:

-About Our Clinic.

-Patient Education.

-Give Us Feedback.

"The idea then is that patients are nervous anyway in the waiting room," says Ajam. "The screen is attractive. It displays images and information."

Neurosurgeon Souheil F. Haddad, MD, at the Neurosurgical Clinic of Bloomington (IN) has been using a patient education system for informed consent. But recently the clinic incorporated a patient satisfaction element. "As of yet, we do not have any preliminary results, except that all patients went through the whole questionnaire module," says Haddad. They indicated that they "were glad to be given the opportunity to voice their opinion," he says.

A study of another interactive patient education system, created by Inlight Inc. of Evanston, IL, found that 74% of patients were moderately satisfied and 21% completely satisfied with the program. Practices said it saved them an average of 16 minutes per patient, and 56% of the practices surveyed said patients were more compliant with their treatment after they viewed the program.

Joining a patient satisfaction survey to an appealing patient education program may make it easier to get bigger sample sizes — and a better picture of patients’ perspective of the practice. "Even if I could capture one out of three patients, I would have a pretty good feel for what they think of this [medical] service," says Jebson.

More About Touch Screens

4 Inlight Shared Choice and Inform programs: Interactive systems provide information on a patient's condition and treatment options or on a variety of health topics. They can incorporate patient satisfaction and functional health status surveys. For more information, contact Inlight Inc., 1603 Orrington Ave., Suite 750, Evanston, IL 60201. Telephone: (847) 475-3700. Fax: (847) 475-3720. Web site:

4 X-Plain: Interactive systems that focus on informed consent or health information topics and patient satisfaction. Surveys can be customized. For more information, contact the Patient Education Institute, University of Iowa, 100 Oakdale campus, Iowa City, Iowa 52242. Telephone: (800) 397-8093. Web site: