How video education can improve patient’s memory and understanding rate for medical information

For too long paper-based written educational material has been handed out to patients even though numerous studies have proven that visual support results in higher rates of understanding and more satisfied patients.

· Patient Centred Care

Before any surgery, patients must be informed about the procedure and possible side effects. For more than 60 years now, this information process has hardly changed. However, the scope and complexity of the medical information have increased massively. Nevertheless, patient education still takes place using paper-based information sheets, which consist mainly of medical terms and hardly any visual support. To be fair, more and more doctors have started educating their patients with hospital-owned tablets instead of the educational paper sheets. Behind this supposed innovation, however, there is only the scanned information sheet in digital form. Even though this approach saves paper and allows digital processes to be driven forward within the clinic, the technological upgrade does not contribute to an improved understanding rate among patients. There is still a lack of solutions which, in addition to the technological aspect, also promote the further development and visual implementation of conventional information sheets.

Video education can be better memorised than usual paper-based material

With the increasing complexity of medical information material truly comprehensive education for patients is needed

The importance of comprehensive information for patients is proven by several studies, such as the article “Patients’ memory for medical information” by Roy Kessels, published in the Journal of the royal society of medicine. The study concludes that the memory of patients for medical information is often incomplete and especially older, frightened patients suffer from it. Visual support has had a positive effect on memory, especially in patients with reading difficulties.

Also the study “What do patients recall from informed consent given before orthopedic surgery” published in Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2010 shows that patients had poor retention of the informationpresented during the consent procedure. The study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the consent process and the retention of relevant information in patients with orthopedic trauma and those undergoing elective surgery. 41.5% of the patients were unable to remember any possible complications related to their surgery. Only 30% of the patients stated that they had read the written information material at all. As a possible reason for this, the doctors stated that many of the patients could not read properly or had only experienced a rather low level of school education.

There is undeniably a lack of essential visual support to help patients better comprehend the information provided during the educational process.

Oral and written communication is not sufficient to adequately educate all age groups and people with lower educational backgrounds.

In the search for visual support, the Charité Berlin has also taken the initiative and developed a comic strip of its own to support patients in the context of cardiac catheterization. It was tested to what extent the visual support has an effect on understanding, fear and satisfaction in the educational process. The result was that the comic version performed better in all three areas than the conventional educational method.Not only was the understanding of the procedure, risks and post-operative behavior significantly increased, but patients reported that they were less frightened about their operation and generally more satisfied with the entire process.

We believe that much more than a comic can be achieved when visually assisting patients in their education. Considering there has been a significant change in patient behaviour over the last years we consider video education as the must-have tool for a modern patient education process.

The expectations of patients in dealing with their personal health have changed.

We know it from our everyday life: customer-oriented digital platforms make it easy nowadays to shop, travel or do banking on your own. Patients have the same expectations when dealing with their personal health. They want a simpler health experience and personalized services that are easy to use. Also they expect a modern doctor-patient interaction and are already using digital technologies in healthcare.

Patients behavior has changed over the last years. They are already using digital tools e.g. to connect with doctors via telemedical platforms

Most people are using digital platforms and consuming video content on a daily basis. ©Illustration by Stories by Freepik

The top medium when it comes to consuming information is video. Whenever we want to know exactly how something works, we watch tutorials or how-to videos that explain how it works visually and verbally. In 2019 Germans over 14 years consumed an average of over 5 hours of moving image content daily. Video is practiced and it is impossible to imagine our everyday life without it, even for older people. For this reason, we at medudoc aim to revolutionize patient education using personalized video content tailored to the individual patient.

Most people are using digital platforms and consuming video content on a daily basis. ©Illustration by Stories by Freepik

Patients behavior has changed over the last years. They are already using digital tools e.g. to connect with doctors via telemedical platforms. ©Illustration by Stories by Freepik

Benefits of video-based patient education

As mentioned above, several studies prove that visual support in processing medical information achieves better results in patients. Apart from this, there are other benefits for both patients and doctors.

For patients:

  • An improved recall and understanding rate leads to better informed and more satisfied patients
  • A patient-centric approach to medical content paves the way for a truly value-based healthcare
  • Video content can be viewed multiple times, paused and viewed from anywhere
  • Medical interventions often mean mental stress for both the patient and their relatives. If desired, patients can share their personal education video with relatives or trusted persons. Both parties will know what to expect and are more reassured.
  • Video as a medium is familiar to the general public from everyday life and does not require a broader examination.

For doctors:

  • Pre-made video content enables doctors to provide their patients with standardized and comprehensive information and thus save valuable time in their daily clinic routine
  • In the personal informed consent conversation, the doctor can focus on the patients’ open questions, since he has already been comprehensively informed about the medical procedure as a whole.
  • Litigation for clinics can be reduced, as patients are more fully informed and more satisfied with the whole educational process.

As we can see the benefits are numerous for both patients and doctors. Especially given the current COVID19 circumstances it is even more important to rethink redundant and outdated processes and replace them with innovative time-saving solutions. Up to now, there is only a lack of standardized processes in hospitals that support the handling of video-based educational material. We at medudoc are working all the harder to set up these processes together with doctors and to develop video content in co-creation with them that informs patients comprehensively about their procedure.

About the author:

Mona Ciotta is working as Strategic Business Development Manager at the digital health start-up “medudoc” in Berlin. Coming from a digital marketing background she is now working on bridging the digital gap of evolved patient expectations, arbitrary regulations and economical pressured healthcare providers like hospitals and doctors. Through video animation, medudoc digitizes, automates and standardizes the analog and tedious practice of patient education before a medical intervention. You can contact her via mail and LinkedIn.

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