Monday, May 7, 2007

patient education leaflets

The first choice for many are the ACOG leaflets – more expensive than other solutions, but they are “the standard” and therefore always defensible in court should an issue arise. They look nice, fit into most purses, can be conveniently kept in wall hangers - even in small examination rooms. They are just the best.

Significantly less expensive than ACOG leaflets: a subscription to “MD-Consult”, which is only $220 a year on the net. This service not only gives you a large amount of textbooks, journals and pharmaceutical and pharmacological information, but (and this is the great thing that alone makes it worth the annual subscription) it gives you access to about 3000 (!) patient instructions, very well written, a good number also in Spanish. Often they have a short and long version of the same topic. I print out the instructions leaflets, copy them and keep them organized in my drawer, so that I can hand them to patients as needed - without having to log on and print them out each time. Loggin on, selecting an printing is very tedious in I dropped the subscription due to this. Printouts can be personalized with your name and office address. Advantage: price. Drawback: plain black and white printouts, no graphics, no colors.

Easiest, cheapest solution, but it feels somewhat dated: Miller, McEvers, Griffith: “Instructions for obstetrical and gynecological patients”. Now in its third edition, $50-60. You are specifically allowed to copy all pages and hand them to your patients. The book comes with a CD that you can load onto your computer. It lets you easily print out all 200 plus patient instruction leaflets. The book also includes diets and illustrations. A steal. Has proven to be extremely cost effective.

Write your own leaflets and information material! This is probably the best way. You will have tailored and customized information from your practice. And, your patients will first hear it from you and then read the same information on a paper at home (hopefully). This achieves maximum retention and effect. This also eliminates mixed messages or confusion when you say one thing and some website recommends another thing.

I recommend not writing leaflets by a list or on demand, let's say, in response to the thought, "Well, what leaflets might I need?" and then sit down and write them...NO, do not do that. I recommend a different approach: as soon as you realize that you are explaining something several times, as soon as you find yourself talking about something repetitively, you simply write down exactly what you just said. You use spoken language, simple terms. Voila, your leaflet is done.

Then continue to correct and expand it with time, as the additional questions and ideas arise.

This is also the best way to write a practice newsletter. Write down the things you explain to your patients, or the things you would love to explain, but do not have the time and mail them out or email them out every so often. Nobody says that a practice newsletter has to come out every three months. Write them and mail them as the issues arise. For example in late 2006 it was HPV, and the answers to the questions " Do I need an HPV test? Do you recommend the HPV vaccine?"

Post this information on your website. A good place to keep the original files or master files is in "Google Docs and Spreadsheets"

I have used all the above in the past, and presently, based on my experience, I use a combination of my own leaflets and the ACOG leaflets.

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