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In: Blog, Social Media, The practice of Medicine, Videos

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Its just like taking you home with me doctor.”

The comment came, accompanied by a wink and warm smile, from a patient called Mary.

Mary was giving me some honest feedback on some informational videos (featuring me) that I had sent to her using a platform called Vidscrip*. Just in case you were wondering.

Vidscrip (formerly Clear.MD) allows doctors to prepare short informational videos for their patients for use before and after visits to their doctor. After her last visit, I had sent her 3 video prescriptions (‘Vidscriptions’) each containing 10-12 short videos (here, here and here) of me answering frequently asked questions about her diagnosis and treatment.

No matter how clear we may think we are when communicating information to our patients, a lot of what we say to our patients is quickly forgotten. The questions that most need answering often occur to patients during the car ride home, while chatting to friends, or when they wake, panic stricken, in the middle of the night. “Did he say to take it BEFORE or AFTER food?”

This often results in unnecessary worry, frantic Google searches and ultimately, telephone calls or extra appointments or to doctors to clarify information. Distressing for patients and a thorn in the side of a busy doctor.

Having used them for years, I was never convinced that printed information sheets (or pamphlets) are ever completely read, or generate the sort of engagement necessary to make information stick. Having experimented with a few videos which I uploaded to Youtube I quickly realised that my carefully prepared presentations were mixed up with all sorts of content from quacks, supplement salesmen, cat videos and overlayed with Google ads. 

Then my friend, orthopaedic surgeon (and early pioneer of the use of video in patient education), Howard Luks, introduced me to Vidscrip. Within a week, a tripod, iPhone bracket mount, microphone and green-screen arrived by courier and within a few days (and a few hilarious botched attempts) I was up and running.

I have been using this platform to communicate information to my patients for 18 months now. I have prepared 12 Vidscriptions (incorporating 100 videos) on the more common conditions seen at my clinic, procedures I most frequently perform, and the medications I most often prescribe. I also sourced questions from subscribers to my practice Facebook page and followers on Twitter.

The videos

Until recently, the videos were recorded using an camera phone and tripod (usually with an assistant) but recent improvements in the system mean that videos can be recorded, directly to a laptop or desktop computer, and uploaded in seconds. Once uploaded, the videos are instantly formated to the multiple formats necessary for multi-device viewing and video titles automatically superimposed. It also possible to add patient surveys, quizes, feedback questions, and banner adds (mine links to my blog) to each video. It is also possible to share video information prepared by other health care professionals and expert patients (Arthritis ePatient, Hurtblogger has prepared some excellent content for example).

Navigating to the information

The system allows a printed list of ‘Vidscriptions’ to be produced. The relevant vidscrips are then ticked, and handed to my patient . The patient then simply navigates directly to the Vidscrip Website, enters a 5 digit code, and is then directed to the relevant video information. Videos can then be watched on desktop, tablet, iPhone or Android device and then shared by email, Facebook, Twitter (or any social network).

How long?

Each of the videos is less than 1 minute as most viewers of online video stop watching after a minute or two . This means breaking topics down into granular form. Vidscrip offers templates which prompt the user on what information to include for medical conditions, medications, procedures, tests etc.

Engagement

The Vidscrip system also allows tracking of viewer engagement with the content. It possible to determine the number of ‘hits’ for any video, the geographical location of each viewer, and how long each video is viewed for (the average duration of video watched for my content is 86%). This allowed me to re-write an record a number my videos after noticing that viewers stopped watching early on. Ultimately though I have relied on feedback from my patients about the videos. It has been overwhelmingly positive.

The future

To date I have been using it to provide information to patients after a clinic visit to supplement information provided face to face. In coming months I plan to provide access to information to patients before they see me. This will include information about me, my specialty and what to expect on their first visit to hospital. 

As to whether it saves me time and reduces the number of telephone calls to my office- I’m not yet sure. But at least my patients get to take me home…

More on how to record video content for patients will follow in another blog post

*Disclaimer – Dr. Kavanagh has acted as a medical advisor for Vidscrip.

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