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    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Web Rx: A e-prescription for patient education (and we use the prefix "e-" loosely):

    These prescriptions look much like a regular prescription, but instead of a medication, the education prescription includes the name of the condition or disease, along with seven Web sites where patients can learn more about it. In the waiting room, three computers are set up to let patients visit those seven sites, and only those seven sites.

    It's not available on the website, but the print edition shows a picture of the prescrption and that's just what it is - a prescription pad with a line for the name of the diagnosis and then the suggested website circled. Here are the sites they cite:


    Some of them are easier to browse than others. Suppose, for example, you are given the diagnosis of chlamydia. Got to the CDC. There's a lot of noise on the front page but if you click on the link to "Diseases and Conditions" on the left hand side, you get this. If you know chlamydia is sexually transmitted you click on that link, or you can go to the alphabetical directory, then click on chlaymdia. But wait, there are two chlamydias - chlamydia pneumonia and just plain chlamydia. Which do you click? It seems obvious to me, but I'm a doctor. I know the difference. I wouldn't assume my patients do. Even when you get to the chlamydia page it isn't filled with straightforward information. Just more links which also require a little more than the average knowledge to figure out which link is best.

    Let's try a simpler approach - Familydoctor.org to diseases beginning with C to Chlamydia information. Not quite as confusing.

    The point, though, is that we often overestimate the number of people in the general population who are comfortable using computers. I'm willing to bet the percentage of savvy computer users in an inner city family practice residency is even lower than in the suburbs.

    Call me old fashioned, but I believe a patient is better served by being given the printout of the information rather than being told to surf sites themselves. I often use the sites listed above, but I do the surfing for my patients to find the information that suits their situation the best. Does it take me more time to do that than it would to circle the URL of a website on a piece of paper? Yes, a few seconds. But they are paying me after all.

    posted by Sydney on 4/17/2007 08:06:00 AM 2 comments


    There are some companies that are coming up with films explaining procedures and complex medical concepts. One such is www.kreativevistas.com These guys have been creating some very good easy-to-understand patient education films on chronic conditions. It remains to be seen how they make it available on the web. There must be an easier way... possibly handing DVDs along with print material will work even better!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:03 PM  

    I think Dr. Wennberg is working on something similar. Here it is: the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making. This is the research arm. The commercialization arm is
    >Health Dialog


    By Blogger Tom Leith, at 1:11 AM  

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