Australian Doctors: iPads Can Benefit Patients


Patients understand their treatment better if shown a video about it on an iPad or other tablets. A team of Australian doctors says the understanding of medical procedures is important so patients can give their fully informed consent to the treatment, which is usually hurdled by various factors brought by face to face consultation.

“Patients often find it difficult to understand the medical language used by doctors during face to face standard verbal communication, and they often feel intimidated by the interaction,” explains lead researcher Matthew Winter from the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney. “Often, doctors work within busy practises and clinical environments with time limiting the quality of a consult and or verbal consent for a procedure. Patients often find it difficult to comprehend their planned procedure.”

Doctor with his patient. Photo from Pixabay/skeeze

Doctor with his patient. Photo from Pixabay/skeeze

“We have found that a patient’s knowledge is greatly improved through the use of portable video media and is their overall preferred method of information delivery compared with standard verbal communication,” Winter adds.

The researchers studied 88 patients who will undergo surgery for acute renal colic. Forty-five talked about the operation with their doctors while the other 43 patients were given an iPad that presented them with a doctor-narrated cartoon animation that informed them of their medical procedures.

The team inquired about the patients’ comprehension and satisfaction of their surgery’s details through the two modes of communication. They discovered that the video increased their comprehension by up to 15.5 percent. Furthermore, 80.7 percent claimed they would rather watch the video while only 19.3 percent said they still wanted a doctor to discuss their treatments personally.

The researchers assert that using an iPad to watch a video is not a replacement for face to face consent. Instead, this should only stand as an aid that will help inform the patient about treatment procedures to accomplish the consent process.

“This innovative approach to patient information, using a cartoon animation narrated by a doctor, allows each individual patient as much time as needed to understand the proposed procedure. It should not replace a face to face discussion with the physician, but will allow patients to meet the physician already informed and prepared, thus benefiting both the physician and the patient,” says Fiona Burkhard, chairman of the EAU Guidelines panel for Urinary Incontinence.

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