Transformation that works

"Doc, I found this on the web. What do you think?"

Categories  |  Technology/Informatics, Patient Education, Practice Tools, Patient Engagement

 |  By Thomas Agresta, MD, MBI

"Doc, I found this on the web. What do you think?" - This ever increasing statement from our patients and their family members is often followed by a discussion during which a substantial amount of time can be spent fact-checking and encouraging good web-browsing habits for healthcare information discovery. Yet primary care providers often engage in this task with patients after the fact, often spending precious time tackling an issue that might best be handled up-front even by our office staff: helping patients identify trusted healthcare information on the internet.

Here are 7 simple steps you can follow to make your lives easier and empower your patients:

  1. Create a shortcut to commonly used patient education websites on your desktop

    Icons such as this can be pulled up during the consultation as an easy demonstration to patients for websites you want them to trust. A few simple steps will make this easy.

  2. Designate a Patient Education Resource Lead for your office.

    This could be an RN, LPN, or MA who is present in the office most of the time. You can counsel him/her on website content and why you wish to send patients to him/her, including answering questions that don’t need an office visit, learning about common procedures, and promoting self-management for chronic diseases.

  3. Provide an Internet Resource Guide for all patients upon registration

    This should include a list of preferred websites for patients to search information. This sample should help you to build a guide specific to your practice. MAs in your practice can document the provision of the handout in the EHR, which can count towards Meaningful Use criteria if done correctly.

  4. Post links to the most recommended Patient Education websites on your own website

    This easy step ensures that your patients can count on your website to direct them towards quality and reliable health information.

  5. Create an auto-print form within the EHR for commonly used patient education sources

    This can be done within the Patient Education or Letters section of your EHR. 

  6. If you have IT staff, have them create an Infobutton

    This automatically connects you to the internet resource from within your EHR in a context-specific manner. For example, it can automatically look up hypertension on the web when it is highlighted on the problem list

  7. Have your patients look for the “Health On the Net” certification symbol which signifies a trusted and reliable source of healthcare information for consumers and patients

This easily recognizable insignia is found only on websites that have been verified and/or validated by this independent rating agency, and is usually found on the bottom of the webpage.

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