Show, Don’t Tell: How Health Education Videos Engage Patients

Patient EducationPatient engagement and activation have been called the blockbuster drug of the century. When patients are engaged, they become more actively involved in their own healthcare, leading to lower costs and better outcomes.

But engaging patients in the hospital environment presents its own unique challenges. How do you get a patient to learn key health information and self-care skills in a short window of time during a physically and emotionally stressful time? What are the best tools at your disposal to reach the broadest number of patients with the most impact? Health education videos can play an important role in getting patients engaged and activated in their care.

A recent systematic review published in Patient Education and Counseling analyzed studies of video-assisted patient education and how effective it is in modifying behavior. The authors found that while video overall can be a highly effective form of patient education, it’s really the method of presentation that can make the difference between an engaged patient and a tuned out one.

When choosing health education video programming, ensure that the format meets the goal. Here are three things to remember:

Didactic doesn’t do it anymore. Traditional didactic teaching, in which an instructor or clinician simply “tells” patients what to do without interaction or real life examples, is the least effective of all video teaching methods. While didactic teaching can increase patient knowledge, it does not increase patient activation, or the actual adaption of behaviors that results in improved outcomes.

Engaging patients through storytelling. What is effective in activating patients towards complex behavior change is narrative video. Narrative video has a real storyline; it presents other patients dealing with similar health issues and shows how they dealt with problems. Not only does narrative video help patients internalize important information about their health conditions, but it also provides an important emotional touchpoint. Patients realize they aren’t alone, and that they can benefit from what their peers have already been through.

Teach self-care skills by example. While narrative storytelling is great for teaching patients about emotional and physical changes they might experience following a diabetes diagnosis, it’s not a great format for instructing them how to test their blood sugar or dispose of needles safely. When educational video is designed to teach or improve specific self-care skills or techniques, offering clear instruction while a patient-actor performs the skill is the most effective teaching method.

If your facility is looking for a video education solution that can engage your patients through both narrative storytelling and skill-based demonstrations, consider The Patient Channel. Our clinically reviewed, award-winning video programming meets Joint Commission accreditation standards and can be customized to include your hospital’s own video programming and patient messaging.

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