He added that patient education is “just one element” of a website, and that most patients still mainly use a practice’s site for nuts and bolts, like seeing what a doctor looks like, finding out where they trained, or to get directions.
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Some companies providing the patient-education services are reluctant to share the cost, in part because the range of licensing fees is very wide since they depend on the number of doctors or the number of users of the content, and on the nature of the services requested. Abrahamson would say only, “It’s not hundreds of thousands, it’s not a few hundred dollars.”
Dr. Romito with Healthwise says, “I look at it from a physician’s perspective and I think, ‘Wow, what a bargain.’… Physicians are seeing the value in the information that we have available.”
Here are some of the options available for doctors looking for help with patient education on their websites:
Healthwise: The nonprofit, whose mission is to help people make better health decisions, was founded in 1975. They provide patient education, technology, and services for health plans, practices of all sizes, hospitals, integrated delivery networks, some government agencies, and care management organizations.
In addition to providing patient instructions about specific episodes of care, what to do at home, and when to call for help, Healthwise offers a Knowledgebase that includes in-depth content about specific conditions, interactive tools such as decision aids, and videos that support behavior change.
Karen Baker, senior vice president of consumer experience at Healthwise, says, “Our goal is to make sure people have the information and tools they need to partner with their doctors to make decisions and change behavior.”
Content developers, who work in-house at Healthwise, create the evidence-based, plain-language material, which is vetted by in-house physicians and by physicians under contract who review certain specialized content.
The material is updated on a continuous basis, Healthwise says, with subject matter experts reviewing the medical literature daily and then consulting with physicians to decide which changes should be made.
“Our user experience team gathers input from patients to make sure our content and tools meet their needs and reflect their experiences, and it also collects follow-up feedback that helps us continue to enhance and improve our patient-education assets,” Baker says.
Krames StayWell: This company was created in
2011 after the merger of Krames Patient Education, founded in 1974, and StayWell Custom Communications, founded in 1984. Most of Krames StayWell’s clients are hospitals and large health plans, but the company also works with small physician groups as well as employers.