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Patient Education: The Right Materials at the Right Time

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Patient Education: The Right Materials at the Right Time

Patient Education: The Right Materials at the Right Time Videos and e-books can help patients process information at their own pace.
Karen Nitkin

Date: 03/12/2019

When internal medicine doctor Danny Lee tells his patients they have diabetes, he knows they won’t retain all his information and instructions. “It’s a lot to process,” he says. “We’re talking about medications, lifestyle changes and medical equipment they have to use.

“I try to give them one or two things to remember, and I put an e-book about diabetes into their MyChart portal,” says Lee, who is chief medical information officer for Johns Hopkins Community Physicians. “It’s comprehensive. I tell them to read it when they’re ready.”

The e-book, called Living with Type 2 Diabetes and available in English and Spanish, is part of a growing patient education program across Johns Hopkins. New titles are being added, and the technology is being improved so that it is easier for clinicians to find useful materials and get them to patients.

“We’ve been embedding the patient education in the right place in the patient’s journey and integrating it into the workflow of the clinician so it’s there when you need it and easy to get to,” says Tom Bauer, senior director of patient education.

When clinicians are in the Epic electronic medical record system for a particular patient, they can search for materials in the Clinical References and Education activities and add them to the patient’s MyChart portal or send by email. 

In some cases, Epic adds the titles to MyChart automatically. For example, MiKaela Olsen, clinical nurse specialist in ambulatory oncology, says new patients automatically get a video about the cancer center in their MyChart portal.

In addition to e-books and printable handouts, the patient education program currently offers about 700 videos. About 65 of the videos were created at Johns Hopkins, says Bauer, with others coming from companies that specialize in patient education materials.

The videos are straightforward, says Bauer, without flashy graphics or medical jargon. “It’s kind of like your aunt sitting you down and saying, ‘Let’s talk about diabetes for a while,’” he says. “It’s a comforting voice that walks patients through serious things.”

Bauer says about 4,000 patients watch the videos each month, a number that has been growing. One reason for the increase is the recent launch of MyChart Bedside, which gives tablets to patients during their hospital stays, so they have access to their education materials, lab results, appointments and more. MyChart Bedside, now at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, is scheduled to expand across the enterprise by fall. 

In his internal medicine practice, says Lee, the patient education materials help his patients learn how to do health-related tasks that are new to them, like administer insulin or use an inhaler.

They can also reassure patients. He recently saw a patient who was nervous about upcoming cataract surgery, even though his surgeon had explained what to expect. Lee added some short videos about the surgery to the patient’s MyChart account.

“He can look at the video at his leisure, and have a better understanding of what’s going to happen,” he says.