Distance Learning

Distance learning has always been an important element of patient education—and now with the advent of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions across the country, it’s quickly become indispensable. Health systems across the country, from Kaiser-Permanente’s birthing classes[1] to post-operative care at the Mayo Clinic[2], have pivoted to using a distance learning model whenever possible. This makes it safer for both clinicians and patients by minimizing direct contact, but it also presents a change for instructors who are used to in-person teaching.

The most important change is the introduction of digital technology into the learning process, which can present challenges for both instructors and patients. In lower socioeconomic and rural areas, it’s not uncommon to find patients who are “digital illiterate” or who don’t have a way to attend digital classes. A truly effective distance learning platform should be simple to use for everyone.

The transition to distance learning also presents an opportunity. In many departments, instructors have created their own materials for classes including prenatal and maternity, pre- and post-operative care, and rehabilitation programs.  In others, they have relied on free materials from various public and non-profit agencies that may not be appropriate in a digital learning environment.

Relying on a partner like The Wellness Network offers health systems and providers a seamless tool to activate, educate, and engage patients from a safe distance.  Our HealthClips Online platform, which can be accessed from anywhere Internet is available, presents standardized education in a customizable platform. From childbirth, cardiopulmonary rehab and joint replacement programs and support group meetings, to one-on-one education, our trusted video health, wellness and patient education is easily presented and shared online. There are powerful advantages to offering consistent messages and education.

  1. Increases Comprehension – It dramatically increases the likelihood that patients will remember the material. The informal “Rule of 7” suggests that adults need to hear a message seven times before they learn it or will act on it. In a healthcare setting, comprehension is key to empowering patients to participate in their own care.
  2. Reduces Confusion – Consistent education can help reduce the confusion patients experience as they travel through their healthcare journey. Confusion is a significant problem for patients who are likely to be under physical, emotional, and even financial stress. Receiving conflicting messages not only decreases patients’ ability to act in their own best interest, it can impact their patient satisfaction.
  3. Saves Time & Money – Working with a patient education partner to provide education materials that meet all your facility’s education requirements / patient population needs saves time, effort, and money for providers. Additionally, ensuring your partner can deliver on multiple platforms both within existing clinical workflow and easily accessible by patients where and when they need it ensures consistency. Our education is vetted by clinicians to ensure it is current and evidence-based, and our delivery platforms make it easy for patients to view education on any device in any setting while streamlining your need to work with multiple education partners.

In the future, no one knows what “normal” will look like, and how permanent the changes we’re seeing will be. But even if the enhanced infection protocols are relaxed as the pandemic recedes, the advantages of transitioning to standardized class materials and patient education that is easily accessible on multiple platforms will remain.

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References

[1] “Are Kaiser Permanente’s prenatal education classes canceled?” Kaiser Permanente. https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/health-wellness/maternity/healthy/covid-19-and-pregnancy

[2] “COVID-19 Updates.” Mayo Clinic Health System. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/covid19