The Docola Video Platform: A Better Path Towards Effective Patient Education

By Christopher Hughey

5-minute read

Today let’s talk patient education. To far too many medical practices, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies, patient education is simply a box they have to tick to comply with regulatory and legal requirements.

“I provided Mrs. Smith with a hard copy of the expected side effects and a copy of the pharma company’s disclosures. I’m done.”

“I emailed Mr. Jones a link to a fact sheet about treating sprains. I’m done.”

“I stapled a copy of the pharmaceutical company’s disclosures to Ms Clark’s prescription bag. I’m done.”

But what’s actually being accomplished here? If hand-outs get tossed in the recycling bin; if emailed links get ignored because patients know it’s just going to be a bunch of small print a lawyer said they had to receive; if drug information sheets get tossed out with the bag the prescription came in; then how are patients being served?

It’s time for a better way.

It’s time for Docola.

Docola is a video platform for providing both stock and customized content that actually educates patients in a meaningful way, while improving patient outcomes through better treatment adoption and adherence. It also improves the bottom lines for practices, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies. Let’s walk through some scenarios to understand how.

Scenario I

John comes into his primary care doctor’s office with a sprained ankle. After diagnosis and treatment, the nurse practitioner gives him the usual advice about RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and advises he take come OTC pain relievers. She prints off a handout with more information. He hobbles out and goes home. The handout is long since in the recycling bin when he has questions about compression, so he calls the practice. A nurse on call triage duty gets the call and after he is on hold for a few minutes (since the nurse is swamped), he gets through, asks his questions (which were all addressed in that discarded handout) and goes about his day. Added staff time spent: 5 minutes. Added effort by patient: 10 minutes (half of which was spent on hold) and a phone call.

Let’s rewind. As he is leaving the office, the NP asks John if he has an email on file with the practice. He does. “Then you’ll get a link to a video, John. Have a look and feel free to call if you still have questions.” Up pops a short video on Docola with approved stock content on treating sprains. This isn’t YouTube, where such a video would also lead to suggestions about videos on how sprained ankles are caused by alien abductions or how our slightly hypochondriac John should really be concerned about his sprain being a sign of ‘ankle cancer’: this is medically-approved content in a library to which access is restricted by specific links to specific videos, so patients can’t go browsing down the rabbit hole.

What do you think that version of Scenario I does to that practice’s call volume, their patient’s satisfaction, and his outcome?

Scenario II

Donna calls into a patient support line for a drug she just started using. She has questions and concerns about the drug. The pharmaceutical company uses an outsourced patient services provider that bills them based on, among other things, total FTE associates, nurses, and other clinicians dedicated to the program, so while of course the manufacturer wants the very best information going out to patients to ensure adherence, they also want to be mindful of costs. Donna is on the phone with a highly qualified clinician for 20 minutes. She eventually gets all her questions answered and starts the drug treatment plan. She didn’t take notes, though, and the follow-up email with a link to a dense PDF full of technical terms is not something she is going to revisit.

Let’s rewind. Donna calls into a patient support line for a drug she just started using. An associate answers the phone and learns Donna has questions about the drug. The associate sends Donna a link to a video and says, “This video is short, but it answers most people’s questions about the drug you’ve been prescribed, and you can access it again any time you want.” To ensure compliance, the same email with the link has a link to the requisite ‘fine print’ page or contains that PDF Donna will never read. But meanwhile, true patient education has taken place and she has an asset she can revisit whenever she needs to. Instead of 20 minutes on the phone with a clinician, she just spent three minutes on the phone with an associate, and got a better outcome.

What do you think that version of Scenario II does to that patient support line’s call volume and costs? And what impact do you think it will have on both patient satisfaction and treatment adherence and outcomes?

Scenario III

Jill picks up her meds at her local pharmacy. Stapled to it is a thick printout full of very dense legal and medical language she knows she’s never going to read. She tosses it into the recycling bin as soon as she gets home. Later that evening, she starts experiencing a side effect. Nothing major, but she’s concerned enough to call the pharmacy and ask about it. She’s a little aggravated that she has to stay on hold for 10 minutes while a PharmaD becomes available to talk. Once she finally does talk to the pharmacist, she’s relieved to discover that this minor side effect is completely expected and will pass soon, though she is still a little annoyed at how long it took to get an answer. The pharmacist, meanwhile, is stressed out because that was yet another phone call she didn’t have time to take during an already insanely busy day.

Let’s rewind. Jill picks up her meds at her local pharmacy. Stapled to it is a thick printout full of very dense legal and medical language she knows she’s never going to read and that she’s already planning on tossing it into the recycling bin as soon as she gets home. But her pharmacist also gives her a link to a quick video that she can watch and bookmark. “If you have any questions, Jill, just give that video a look. If it doesn’t address your concerns, feel free to give us a call.”

What do you think that version of Scenario III does to that pharmacy’s call volume and for Jill’s satisfaction? 

If you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who could come up with a dozen more scenarios on your own.

Reach out today and let’s talk through them!