Patient Education via the Internet

We all can recall the numerous times we’ve received a joke email in our inbox. But did you know that a greater number of Canadians have looked for health information online than have sent joke emails? That fact may be surprising, but two-thirds of all online Canadians have looked for health information on the Internet according to a survey from Ipsos-Reid.

This survey shows that the Internet is becoming an increasingly important source of health-related information for those using the web. It also shows that the Internet is acting as a means of patient education. Traditionally, patients have relied on verbal and written information given to them in the doctor’s office. Now, patients are learning that the Internet can be an important source of information. And we are learning, as providers of health care, that we can be proactive about using the Internet as a tool to educate our patients.

What should we consider if we want to be proactive about patient education?

Knowing that many of your patients are already searching online for health-related information may prompt you to want to gain some control over what information they are finding. You can use your dental practice’s website as a source for patient education. By directing your patients to your website, they can educate themselves about various dental treatments that you provide, as well as find answers to frequently asked questions relating to your services and dentistry in general.

If you are thinking about adding patient education to your website, consider these benefits of providing information to your patients in this way…

Higher Retention of Information and Reduced Anxiety – Computer-based education can be more effective than traditional forms of education due to its visual capabilities. Educating your patients by means of visual aids can provide them with rewards such as improving their ability to retain information regarding their treatments, and decreasing their anxiety relating to their treatment. In a study of patients undergoing radiation therapy, patients that were given audio-visual patient education showed significantly greater retention of information regarding treatment, as well, these patients showed less anxiety relating to their treatment regardless of their coping style.

Influences Treatment Acceptance - In a survey taken in the US, 70% of those surveyed that use the Internet reported that health information they find online influences their decision about treatment. By using your website as a source of information about specific dental treatments, your patients will be better informed and more likely to accept treatments you have recommended.

A Reliable Source – 86% of health seekers are concerned about getting health information from an unreliable online source. By providing your patients with accurate information through your website, you minimize their concerns further decreasing their anxiety.

Patient Privacy – 83% of health seekers say it is important to them that they can get this information anonymously without having to talk to anyone. Some patients may be shy to ask all the questions they have about their treatment face-to-face.

Convenient Source for Patients – When asked why they use the web to find health-related information, 93% say it is important they can get health information when it is convenient for them.

If you would like to see an example of how a website can be used as a resource for patient education, visit www.gladstonedental.com, www.drralphphelan.com, www.alderneydental.com. Or visit our website at www.optiopublishing.com.

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