Thursday, January 21, 2010

Patient Education Brochures and Booklets are Still Essential Despite the Internet: Where to Find Them?

A Small Cost to the Provider, but Invaluable to the Public and the Patient

I mentioned in another blog post that I'm a bag lady when it comes to medical brochures.  I expect to pick up something of interest if I happen to visit a health fair or health-related event.  The vendors are not going to attract my interest by merely displaying a poster or a table-top video display.  I want to pick up something that I can read when I'm ready.  "Readiness to learn," after all, is a basic fundamental in the teaching-learning realm of education.  

While the internet offers vast opportunities to find what we seek in the way of health information, I still have a desire for the traditional illustrated pamphlets that were so long a staple of patient education.  I can attest that even now, in large hospitals that promote themselves as cutting edge, the lack of a patient educational handout means the lack of patient teaching.  Period and end of story.  I have never seen any patient willingly turn the TV to the patient education channel to learn more about their health needs.  A patient sick enough to be bedfast in the hospital is typically not online to search for health-related information.  And many patients can't afford the luxury of a laptop to bring to the hospital--or perhaps they are not internet savvy to begin with. 

There is a real need, in my opinion to preserve the traditional patient education tools. In a pre-op or post-op teaching situation, computer based learning is not conducive to the one-on-one, individualized teaching that needs to take place.  The patient brochures are awesome adjucts to this type of patient education interaction.  Hospitals--start stocking more patient education brochures and making distribution of them a priority--please!! 

Patient Education Publishers of Note

One of my favorite patient education brochures that I've kept is by the Channing Bete publishing company.  Channing Bete has been in this business for decades and now boast a host of patient education products and services.  I've had this booklet so long that I see it's been replaced by an updated version.  The one I have (in two versions, English and Spanish):  "Sooo . . . You're going to have an OPERATION" and "De mondo que . . . le van a OPERAR!"  And the newest versions:  About Having Surgery, About Ambulatory Surgery, and for kids: Same Day Surgery:  A Coloring and Activity Book.  Honestly, these publications are sublime in their simplicity and ability to communicate the need-to-know basics of surgery day to patients and their loved ones.

Krames Education Products and Services is an offshoot of a larger company called Staywell.  My old favorite publication by Krames is called, "Pressure Ulcers, Your Role in Prevention and Treatment" (aimed at nurses.)  Now there is a newer version on their website called,  "Pressure Ulcers Prevention and Treatment." These are great publications for caregivers with wonderfully detailed illustrations and excellent explanations.  Find other worthwhile topics for patient education from their catalog:
Krames Patient Education Print Materials

One thing about physician's offices these days--there are not a lot of actual nurses in these settings.  Nurses are more expensive than medical technicians, so physicians tend to employ more of these unlicensed assistants.  The loss of professional nurses in that setting allows for a gap in patient teaching.  Often in pre-surgery teaching sessions bewildered patients who had already been with their physicians for a previous appointment to determine that surgery was necessary, would admit that they had no real idea what their upcoming surgery entailed.  And for some of the complicated surgeries they didn't know how to spell the procedure correctly in order to search for appropriate information online.  I found that Colen Publishing offers a dozen or so titles to explain surgical procedures (often ones that are in the neurosurgery realm), these titles cover Craniotomy, Laminectomy, Ventricular Shunt, Cervical Fusions and more.  See an example of one of their Tri-Fold Surgery Cards: Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion. I think it would be a great service for a patient anticipating surgery to have one of these nice explanatory tri-folds instead of trying to (alone) search out information online that may or may not pertain to their particular situation and surgery.

Of course the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute offer many wonderful publications about cancer, but please don't overlook the three that are available free from the Patient Resource Cancer Guides (3 titles available free to patients & in bulk to hospitals or clinics.) Place your order today:  Patient Resource.Net

Some other worthwhile sources of hard-copy patient educational brochures:

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