TECH CORNER: July/August 2013
We have told you in the past that 82% of your patients learn best by visual means. The most obvious evidence in support of this research is YouTube’s ranking as the number-two search engine on the planet.
People fail in their self-care management behaviors (including medication behaviors) for three reasons: (1) they don’t know what to do; (2) they don’t know how to do it; or (3) they are not motivated to do it. Admittedly, being motivated is the toughest of these three reasons for failure. Websites like Patients Like Me (http://patientslikeme.com) help with motivation by pairing patients with care partners who are attempting to cope with the same conditions. Having an accountability partner can be a major plus when trying to change lifestyle behaviors that address health and wellness issues like weight loss, for example.
Regular communication efforts to promote health and wellness could include links to health promotion content. These resources can be integrated into your medication therapy management service provision.
One of the problems in using Internet-based healthcare information is that there is no filter on Google searches to produce only valid and reliable information sources. Thus, patients can be exposed to inaccurate, biased, or even dangerous information. While there are quality certifiers that promote high-quality information, such as the Health on the Net Foundation, many websites are read and taken to be accurate and reliable when they are far from it. We are finding that, increasingly, there is a large amount of great information being published by reputable entities, such as manufacturers of nebulizers. The manufacturers are producing videos on how to assemble, operate, clean, and troubleshoot their products because they have a vested interest in the appropriate use of their products.
We believe that it is very possible to provide quality health promotion materials that support your medication therapy management or other clinical services provision, using low-cost computers or tablets. Health promotions appliances can take the form of stationary workstations that could be made up of retired computers that maintain enough processing power to present Web-based information to patients. Powerful information appliances such as laptops and tablets can also provide this information on demand in a portable form. Pharmacists can wirelessly transmit educational sessions from one device to another using Wi-Fi Direct standard, without the need for leaving the prescription department. Many of the recently released portable information appliances have begun featuring this technology, but the use of a simple dongle on an older device can facilitate this level of connectivity as well.
Moving away from the hardware and addressing the content that could be customized for a health promotions service leads us to some pretty encouraging news. If you or one of your staff members or a pharmacy student are willing to identify and select appropriate content for your health promotions efforts, you will be rewarded with a wealth of great information that is quite staggering. YouTube is the repository for most of this information. Professionally produced and narrated videos abound on any health topic of interest. It is also possible for narrated PowerPoint presentations to be captured for replay on demand. Videos that promote clinical services in the pharmacy can run on most appliances to achieve some marketing benefits.
Many publishers of these excellent videos offer their products free of charge. We especially like the work being done by Clearly Health (http://clearlyhealth.com). You can take a trip to its website if you would like to pause your reading and view an example of its work. Take a look at “How insulin works” to see the quality of its video production. Videos such as “Diabetes: Medication Metformin” are featured on YouTube and could be linked for live streaming on a very basic information appliance. The company does offer syndication arrangements if special display of its materials is required. Some pharmacists are nervous about allowing patients online access from computers in the pharmacy. One workaround for this concern is to download the video files to a hard drive after screening them for appropriateness and medical validity. There are many browser plug-ins that allow the capture of streaming video while viewing the video from its source. You should be cautious about copyright and appropriate attribution if you decide to go this route.
Remember that this effort can serve many purposes. In-store viewing of health promotion content would be supported after a suitable collection of resources has been accomplished. These same materials can be made available for viewing on your website, which would add interesting content for that method of communication. If you have invested in a mobile app, linking to appropriate educational content would give that use of technology and connectivity additional depth and breadth. Regular communication efforts to promote health and wellness could include links to these resources. These resources can be integrated into your medication therapy management service provision. You can assign patients a series of information videos to view, and then handle any questions that arise following this viewing. This would allow you to check in on your pharmacy operations from time to time as you delegate a portion of your patient care session to this technology. You can even write up a press release about the availability of this resource, or include it in any of your marketing efforts.
We have described a method of taking a low-cost approach to providing health promotion education. There are several companies that provide large databases of this kind of resource in multiple languages. We are willing to discuss particulars of how this project could occur in your pharmacy. We welcome your comments and questions, and you can also interact with our blog. CT
Bill G. Felkey, M.S., is professor emeritus, and Brent I. Fox, Pharm.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor, Department of Pharmacy Care Systems, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.