Access Key for Use of Patient Education Technology

Published Online: Friday, October 5, 2012
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The first steps to integrating patient education technology into health care practice might be ensuring that professionals have access to technology resources, according to the results of a study published in the June 2012 edition of Pharmacy Practice.

Researchers from the University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, and the University of Wollongong aimed to explore health care providers’ access to and use of technology to educate patients taking warfarin. They focused on physicians, pharmacists, and nurses, and documented the characteristics that could impact technology use. Researchers surveyed community and hospitalbased professionals practicing within New South Wales, Australia, using a questionnaire with scaled coded and open-ended queries.

The surveys were sent to 300 health care practitioners, including 140 physicians, 120 pharmacists, and 40 nurses. Researchers received 109 completed surveys. Of the completed surveys, physicians returned 40 surveys, pharmacists returned 53 (24 from community pharmacists and 29 from healthsystem pharmacists), and nurses returned 16.

Of the total participants, 54.1% reported having no access to technology-based patient education resources on warfarin, such as patient-focused websites, education software or games, or audiovisual resources, in their practice setting. Participants aged 40 to 59 years were more likely to report using technology resources for patient education than other age groups. In addition, of 41 participants who reported the frequency of technology resource use, 36.6% did not use the resources in their practice.

Fifty participants reported having access to technology resources while at work. Nineteen of those particicpants, including 10 doctors, 8 pharmacists, and 1 nurse, said they never used technology for educating patients taking warfarin. The study authors did not report whether those participants used technology resources to educate patients about other conditions or medication therapy.

Factors that prevented incorporating technology resources included patient age, particularly if a patient was older, time constraints of health care professionals, and language barriers or other cognitive impairments. As a result, participants noted that quality information, use of graphics or illustrations, and information in multiple languages were among the most important factors for educating patients about warfarin therapy.

Participants also preferred computers and interactive touch-screen kiosks located in physician offices, hospital-based clinics, or community pharmacies for imparting information to patients. In particular, pharmacists preferred tablet computers and laptops to desktop computers or interactive kiosks.

Overall, participants indicated that cost related to purchasing or installing technology resources, and the time needed to educate patients using the technology, were concerns regarding integrating them to into practice settings.

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