Why patient education needs to be more YouTube-friendly


As I sat on the edge of her bed discussing delivering options, a sweet mom of twins (who we had decided to welcome to the world at just a few pounds each) looked at me and asked a question that many of us are asked: “What’s safest? What would you do if it were you?”

Most of the time we present options as best we can. If one is clearly the most indicated option, we discuss why. But some situations aren’t so easy. Sometimes the answer isn’t straightforward.

It’s rare for us to answer what we would do because we usually haven’t been in similar situations.

However, I can answer questions regarding twin delivery from a personal standpoint. As so, I have a key view into patient education on this subject — a key view that I don’t have in much of my work.

I spent a lot of my twin pregnancy researching how I should bring my babies into the world. After much discussion with my obstetrician, the plan was originally a vaginal delivery, but we both knew that was flexible and dependent on many factors; not the least of which was my OB’s opinion, which depended on the circumstances of their birth.

My patient and I could have hours of discussion, but having been there myself and having done this professional several times, I chose to defer to my most relied upon resources for helping a mother decide how to bring her twins into the world: YouTube.

We pulled out my iPad and watched this video together before discussing how the data applied to her situation. She spoke with her husband, and we all made a joint decision.

The New England Journal of Medicine is doing something so right that I can hardly squash my fan-boy praise to discuss it without gushing about how much I love it. I wish each one of these videos was relevant to my patient population and field.

They’ve taken literature — straight up, journal club-worthy, peer-reviewed literature — and made it into short, visually-appealing videos that almost anybody can understand. They’re geared towards providers, but patients can also easily understand them, too.

Why is this better than a pamphlet or a printed info sheet? Because this is the world we live in. A world where visually-stimulating information is constantly available. This naturally makes our eyes and ears more tuned into similar media.

Patient information needs an overhaul, and the NEJM is setting an example of how we can do that. One of my very favorite physician writers has some excellent points on this: “What if our education material had the flair of Buzzfeed, Mashable, and others? … They’ve made a science of editorial design and a business of understanding how people consume information. ”

Our paper materials need an overhaul and as physicians, we need to understand possible resources. There is a wealth of helpful information on the web that patients may truly benefit from. As providers, we need to spend some time finding out what’s available. I have a dream of a concise, easy-to-navigate, patient information portal for physicians. Not somewhere to print out booklets or pages, but somewhere to find a mix of information, infographics, and short videos geared towards patients.

We need to be prescribing these to our patients. To our residents. To our students.

Danielle Jones is an obstetrics-gynecology resident. This article originally appeared in the American Resident Project.

Image credit: Bloomua / Shutterstock.com


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