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Use This Video; You Paid For It Already

It’s a fantastic example of a clear, pragmatic and empathetic patient-engagement video. And, you already chipped in for development costs. I’ll get to why in a second. But first, let me say what it does right:

  • It’s a video! Our brains process visuals faster than text. That’s why video watching is growing rapidly, as a way for adults to learn and organizations to share their story. All the things that used to make video such an expensive venture have changed: most Americans can play videos on their phone; live streaming is possible at home and on the go, and; the tools needed by creatives are less expensive and more flexible. If you haven’t watched an “unboxing” yet, do. The army of children who devour them is evidence of the staying power of video.
  • It’s part of a system. The video highlights a workbook, where patients jot down their questions. We’re trying to switch passive health consumers into activated health care consumers, right? Video is the hook, though a passive form of communication. Adults learn better when they practice a new behavior. That’s where the workbook comes in.
  • The tone is empathic. Even those of us who want to be ePatients sometimes miss the mark in our doctor-patient exchanges. Most Americans don’t know how to talk about options with their providers, in part because cost of treatment is the elephant in the room that few discuss. The video addresses general patient concerns, rather than solely cost or a specific condition. Overall, it models a reasonably confident person engaging with their doctor about their care—the foundation of patient activation.
  • Patients talk, in their own words. A narrator guides the content, which we can interpret to be the health system, but the patient actually speaks. And, in ordinary, everyday words too, not legalese. Why does word choice matter? Health literacy advocates can talk for hours about the ramifications on health outcomes and financial security, but it is simplest to say: it’s easier for the patient to imagine themselves trying out those words for themselves.
  • Illustrations include us all, whatever our mood. I love the diversity of our country, but I quickly overlook any media with overused stock photos of happy people of ambiguous race. No one is feeling beautiful or particularly happy on the way to the doctor. The creators of this video honor individuality and the range of emotions we experience as patients.

File under #smartpatients
Okay, onto the practicalities. If you contract with Sutter Health, post this on your benefits website under the category “Talking to Your Doctor”. If you don’t contract with Sutter Health, talk to your favorite health care communication consultant about how you can get one that fits your health insurance mix. (I’d love to talk if you don’t have one!) Then, pair it with any tools you offer employees, like the workbook referenced in the video, such as a tips on preparing for your doctor visit. If you don’t have any, consider linking to Consumer Reports Choosing Wisely lists. Finally, and this may sound brazen, but I’d suggest you borrow the video structure. Why?

You paid for it already
If you’re a plan sponsor or a health insurer, you know all about the PCORI tax. If you have health insurance, your premiums reflect this new cost. The Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funds health research projects that put patients at the center of their care, like this one funded in 2012. That’s exactly what employers care about, right? As research projects finish, what if you leveraged what’s already been created?

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