Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reconstructing Patient Education

I’m in the middle of a technology beat down. Blogger is not accepting my attempts to download my videos. I have some good ones for you people. I’m getting frustrated, and now, my video camera does not want to give up the goods. There is a flashing red message with a line through it, but I don’t know what that means. I haven’t changed the process I was doing previously. This is making me angry.
With this being said. . .
Let’s talk about being a patient in the technological age. Technology has increased access to information in many industries. I think the field of medicine and patient care is far behind technology. We’re talking the ice ages here.
I understand that many patients are older, and may be assumed to be computer illiterate. These patients are being underestimated. When I look around the infusion room, 50% of the patients have lap tops to pass the time.
Health care professionals need to use the lessons learned in the business world and convert them to be patient friendly. Why hasn’t the information age reached our patients, or at the very least our hospitals, yet?
I have recommendations on how to improve patient education. I think the use of growing technologies will be an integral part of advances.
I also think that social psychology and psychological ideas dealing with how a person learns under stress are imperative to making patient education effective.
I think if hospitals had the budget of say, advertising agencies, their presentation of life saving information being given to patients would be more effective.
Hospitals do not need to give patients more education, they need to present the information in a manner that will be remembered, like a beer commercial. Not in dense, text heavy, three ring binders that weigh ten pounds. And I really don’t want to see another freakin’ pamphlet.
Why haven’t I ever gotten a CD-ROM or DVD as a teaching tool. These items would allow me to review certain aspects of taking care of myself in the leisure of my own home, where I am most comfortable, and least stressed.
I’m not saying remove one-on-one teaching methods. I’m saying supplement them so the ideas stick. “Stickiness” is a concept that’s been around since the 1960’s when the advertising industry started to grow and television wanted to predict what series would be successful.
This could be effective for teaching a range of things, such as flushing my lines, protecting my lines when I shower, organizing medications, and how to give yourself injections properly. These are just a few ideas.
A lot of times people are embarrassed to admit they don’t understand a comment. There’s a majority of people who will not ask questions. These people need to be properly educated just like everybody else.
Businesses invest millions and millions of dollars into guaranteeing their messages are being conveyed appropriately in commercials. They use advanced tests to follow eye movements to determine where a person is focused and if the message is being appropriately received.
Previous studies in teaching suggest that the information provided, though vital to the patient, is better received and followed if the action is made easy and convenient to the patient.
For example, there was a study done on how to increase the level of vaccination against tetanus in college students. Three different pamphlets were handed out, each with a different scariness factor.
The scariness factor had no influence on a person’s choice to be vaccinated. When the test was redone, a map of the campus was included, with the health building circled, and times when shots were available. This simple action tipped the vaccination rate up 28% simply by making care more accessible and convenient.
Surprising, I know.
There is also a problem in the advertising world known as “clutter.” I’ve experienced this in the patient world as well. I receive hundreds of packets and pages of information on how to care for myself.
I throw them out. I don’t want information from all over kingdom come.
I want information organized and presented in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing, like a book, with a section of DVDs enclosed. It needs to have pictures and graphs to illustrate points. It needs directions after every chapter on who to call when I experience this problem and how to get to them. It should also have important numbers plastered near the front.
Not only important medical numbers, but numbers for my social security representative, contacts at my disability insurance, baby sitters, family and friends should all be included. I am being treated, all of me. This is called holistic care. How my personal life affects my treatment should be addressed, not only how my treatment affects my personal life.
As far as making difficult information more simple, I also have some suggestions. The Principal of Mutual Exclusivity, for example, states small children have difficulty believing that any one object can have two names. Yes, I am talking about grown patients, but people under stress are mentally regressed. They need to receive their information in a concise, clear, simplified explanation.
For example, each medication has two names. Why are these names allowed to be flip-flopped around in front of the patient? For example, I have tacrolimus and prograf. They are the same medication.
Pick a damn name to use when referring to the drug. One name, probably prograf, since this name suggests the pills action. Patients will be more compliant if they feel they understand their medications and the rationale for taking them. Stick to one name in front of the patients people. Stop the confusion.
I have more suggestions on how to improve patient education. I’ll continue this subject on another day. I’m a little tired to continue my crusade right now, and I’ve just received the news that my TV does not allow DVD players.
I would be more irritable about this, but the computer engineer who came to review my dilemma was hysterical. He put me in a decent mood.

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