PATIENT EMPOWERMENT

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I facilitate all of my consultations, consent processes and procedures with a dedicated illustrative tool (called ‘PostScript’) which enhances personalised care. Patients immediately receive a copy via email or print out.

www.postscriptmedical.com

 

Patient empowerment through individualised communication and education is currently lacking in clinical practice. Overbooked clinics with limited time per patient have a negative impact on the quality of patient care. Other obstacles to effective communication include language barriers, hearing impairment and patients with learning difficulties. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are having to adapt quickly as facemasks and virtual reviews hinder the efficacy of consultations. With over 65% of communication being non-verbal, a strategy to improve patient-health care professional (HCP) interactions was urgently required.

 

Focus group discussions revealed that patients like illustrations to refer to between their long range follow up appointments. They also like to use them to help their own discussions with family members. One patient described a sketch of his planned coronary artery bypass graft on the back of a newspaper on the morning of the major surgery. Although he was grateful for this diagram, I think we can do better. Other patients described improved satisfaction when illustrations are used.

 

HCPs have always used illustrations to bridge the communication gap. We often use sketches during clinic or turn the desktop towards the patients to show them a Google image of the discussion point. However, the quality is variable and the online illustrations are not personalised.

 

With the help of a colleague, I created a catalogue of high definition illustrations for all gastroenterology sub-specialties (inflammatory bowel disease, hepatology, endoscopy and functional GI disorders). Sub-specialty leads (made up of esteemed consultants and specialty nurses) provided input on the most commonly used illustrations during outpatient clinics. A printed version has undergone independent review with the results being published at an international conference.  

 

We’ve now created a web app which functions on desktops, tablets and smart phones. The HCP can search for the illustrations they want to use and then annotate them (with pens, shapes, text) for the patient they have in front of them. This concept extends the personalised treatment paradigm. We are individualising the education and communication process (one size does not fit all). These illustrations can then be emailed to the patient or printed to take home. Patients therefore receive the information immediately instead of waiting 2 weeks or more for a clinical letter full of medical jargon.

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