Patient bedside education: Time to modernize?

By Dave Muoio
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Hurried conversations, paper brochures, and other long-standing approaches to patient education often fall short of their goals, so it’s little surprise that researchers are eyeing digital technologies as a potential solution.

“The bedside education that is given in paper is usually not consumed by the patient — they’re either throwing it away or they’re just forgetting about it,” said Nick Patel, MD, executive medical director of clinical informatics and medical director of Midland Internal Medicine, Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group.

With that in mind, Patel and Ben Schooley, assistant professor of health IT at the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing are embarking on a study to understand the current state and challenges as well as what’s working and what’s not working so well.

“We want to look at the next generation of education at bedside that’s more consumer friendly and see if we can improve outcomes and reduce readmissions and, more importantly, really just improve adherence to their medical regimen,” Patel said.  

To that end, in the study of more than 400 patients, Patel, Schooley, and colleagues will provide patient educators with touch-enabled laptops running Patient Nexus software, which includes education material for several different medical service lines. The educators will provide these devices to their patients, as opposed to more traditional educational materials.

“We really want to close that gap when it comes to the time they spend with a physician and with a whole care team,” Patel said. “Physicians, with the time they have going in and out of rooms every 15, 20 minutes, they’re not able to sit bedside and give this content like they would really like to. I think it empowers the resident care team to really take a bigger part in providing that education and extending what the physician might have already started a conversation on.”

Both patients and educators will be surveyed about the implementation, and whether they believed the effort improved patient involvement, education, and confidence in shared decision making. In addition, Schooley said, the research team is interested in exploring whether this particular implementation best suits the task at hand.

“From a technology research perspective, we’re interested in the role technology can play in bridging those gaps,” Schooley said. “I don’t know that there’s really a ‘one size fits all.’ There’s a lot of technologies out there — what is the mix that’s going to help facilitate that education and communication in the best way?”

Patel and Ben Schooley will be presenting the results of their upcoming study on digital education delivery
At HIMSS18 during the session, “Efficacy of Multimedia in Patient-Physician Interactions,” scheduled for Wednesday, March 7th, from 10:00 to 11 a.m. in the Venetian, Murano 3304.