“Could improved communication, informed patients and increasing health literacy help to slim down a bloated system — and improve American health?”

Some interesting observations from Dr David Newman MD that will no doubt be amplified as patients increasingly access healthcare information online. Anyone else noticing how this type of care is making the need for the Doctor and Patient to meet in a busy Hospital environment superfluous?

As for my answer to the articles orginal question: “Do patients want more care or less?”

I think it’s easy to answer. Doctors and Patients want the right care and it helps patients if their Doctors can acknowledge the need for a patients participation to achieve the best by automatically documenting their care and providing them with explanations that are understandable.

If for whatever reason Doctors feel they haven’t got the time to do this they should use technology to help them. There are patient history taking questionnaires that have been shown to enhance the documentation and safety of consultations while improving the patient experience and effectiveness of the Doctor. There is also an incredible abundance of high quality healthcare videos online that are available for us to share with our patients.

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2 Responses to “Could improved communication, informed patients and increasing health literacy help to slim down a bloated system — and improve American health?”

  1. I was hopeful that this was a voiced interview so it would work for patients who can’t read medical language. Too bad! Research shows only 12% of US adults function in the “proficient” level for health literacy. This software will work great for the 12% but not so well for the other 88%. Can you consider making a spoken version?

    • Hi Audrey,

      The amazing part about the questionnaire is that it’s been developed by Doctors to avoid the need for patients to understand medical language. This is a particularly difficult area for Doctors because of their familiarity with terminology but this questionnaire has developed to avoid this and is consistently improved based on patient use (if for any reason patients don’t understand a question they can simply select the “Don’t understand” option and this feedback is immediately provided to the consulting Doctor and Doctors who are continually developing the questionnaire).

      We’ve also found it can present a step change for patients who have basic literacy challenges as all too often this is ignored by inperson consultations eg. ask a Doctor to name all his illiterate patients and you’ll realise how common it is for this critical information to be unknown, absent from EHR’s, etc.

      As for spoken versions. The questionnaires have actually been used for years by patients with a wide range of disabilities as a result of the work of Dr Richard Sills in the UK (he has worked with organisations like the Thalidomide Trust for years).

      Deaf patients find it improves their ability to give a history (they can be asked and answer questions from a Doctor without the need for an interpreter), blind patients can use it with their usual screen reader technology, disabled patients can use their familiar interface technology (I’ve seen the questionnaire being completed with a wheel chair joystick).

      If you’d like any more information let me know and I can introduce you to the experts at Primetime Medical.

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