Throw Out Your Brochures: Why Digital Patient Education Wins


4 reasons tech is superior to text

Most people in the U.S. have embraced mobile technology—and are using it to monitor and improve their health. About one in five Americans now wears a smartwatch or fitness tracker, according to Pew Research Center. Nine in 10 Americans ages 34 and under have a smartphone, and those age 50 and older are catching up, with 67 percent adopting the technology as of 2019.

There are now 318,000 mHealth apps available, a number that has nearly doubled since 2015. More than 60 percent of people have downloaded a mobile health app, according to industry data.

So why on earth would you still be relying on printed brochures to educate your tech-savvy patients? 

Most doctors now use digital patient education and engagement tools

In fact, most doctors have already embraced digital patient education. If you haven’t yet, you risk being left behind by your colleagues and patients. 

A recent survey found that 95 percent of physician respondents were using some type of patient engagement or education technology.

In a survey of 200 physicians, 95 percent of respondents said they were using some type of patient engagement tool, whether it’s patient education videos shown in the waiting room, handheld tablets in the exam room, or mHealth tools that connect patients to care outside of the practice, reported The survey also found that three-quarters of physician respondents linked patient education and engagement tools to an improved patient experience.

“With better patient education comes more meaningful patient interactions, showing that these technology investments are paying off,” stated the article, adding, “about half of respondents said they were planning on installing digital patient engagement tools in their exam rooms.”

The key benefits of high-quality digital patient education

Of course, not all digital patient education tools are created equal. Be sure to do your homework before investing: ask colleagues for recommendations, read online reviews, and take advantage of demos and free trials. 

Digital patient education is more easily understood, remembered, and shared; and improves patients’ decision-making and perception of their care.

The key benefits of high-quality digital patient education are as follows:

  1. It’s more easily understood by more patients. Numerous studies have shown that health literacy is an issue in the U.S. The American Medical Association and National Institutes of Health recommend that written patient education materials be at the fourth- to sixth-grade reading level. However, most materials—even those available on the web sites of major medical associations—are written well above the recommended reading level. Narrated animations and videos are easily understood by patients of all health literacy levels as well as visual learners, estimated to comprise up to 85 percent of the population. 
  2. It’s more easily remembered and shared. Relying on verbal explanations to educate patients is not a good strategy either. A recent study found that more than half of patients (51 percent) fail to recall recommendations and treatments their doctors gave them unless prompted, reported Becker’s Hospital Review. Patients also need information that is easily shareable. “More than ever before, care activities are being administered in the home by the patients themselves or by caregivers,” such as post-surgical wound care, wrote Nicole Latimer, CEO of StayWell, a health engagement company. “Training for the patients and caregivers in these circumstances—instructional videos, checklists, or other materials—needs to be clear and understandable to make adherence easy.” 
  3. It allows doctors to show, not just tell. Digital tools like Rendia’s Outcome Simulator can help cataract and refractive surgery patients visualize outcomes, and help physicians and staff set expectations and improve conversion rates by showing before-and-after simulations of various lenses and procedures. It’s a fast and customizable way to explain procedures to patients, help them understand the value of treatment options or elective add-ons, and give patients the confidence to make an informed treatment decision. 
  4. It improves patients’ perception of care. Researchers at Rendia conducted a randomized study to evaluate whether the type of educational materials impacts patients’ perceptions, attitudes, and intended health behaviors. Patients who received narrated animation had a significantly improved perception of the care they received from their doctors, versus patients who received text-based materials. 

Technology can transform doctor-patient relationships

“While many industry stakeholders have been wary of the burden technology could place on patient-provider interactions, physicians are beginning to realize that technology can also enable patient relationships,” reported 

Doctors are increasingly embracing technology as a valuable part of practicing medicine and establishing good patient relationships.

Digital Health Coalition Executive Director Christine Franklin said the data confirm that providers consider technology a valuable part of their practice of medicine. “They see, understand, and most importantly are excited about how future innovations in the space are poised to transform how they interact with and educate patients.’”

To see more proof that the format of patient education matters, read our comprehensive study, The Impact of Narrated Animations.


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