Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Transmedia Health Intervention



It's been my experience living in Canada, that the health industry still has an old school mentality about communications. Doctors don't email. They won't even give you results of tests over the phone. They still fax or call prescription emergency refills to the pharmacy. Otherwise, you make an appointment, pick up a physical prescription (and hope the waiting room isn't full so it doesn't cost you over an hour), then take the piece of paper to the pharmacy and wait for it to be filled. It may vary doctor to doctor, but this is my Alberta, Canada doctor experience from living in two major cities and with several different physicians.

When I was in Arizona and sought to get a prescription I didn't have time to get in Canada, I was beside myself with glee when the 60+-year-old doctor had emailed the prescription to the pharmacy before I even walked out the door. Doctors with email? Who knew? By the time I walked into the pharmacy, it had already been filled. Bam! Now that's service!

This week, I came across two stories where digital communications can be used as an effective tool for patients. Ya think?

The first one talks about using an app to help patients with low or no literacy skills. Illiteracy is a problem. Imagine if you can't read and won't be able to know what the critical labeling says on your prescription? It's not something an adult likes to admit, so more than likely, when they speak with their doctor or pharmacist, they wing it when he or she points out to the label as to how much and the precautions.

Biology professor John Pollock and his team of Pittsburgh (yes, that is Pennsylvania, America, not Canada) has been on a mission since 2001 to increase the health literacy of patients. He's working on "Bibliotech" e-books to engage children to learn more about science and health.

The other story is about using transmedia storytelling to teach teenagers about sexual health. "East Los High" is a portal for information about health and social services. Oh yea, that one is in the U.S., too.

Getting back to Canada, even MacLean's magazine called out doctors for being digitally absent.

There is so much opportunity left on the floor by the healthcare industry. Doctors may chastise us for checking out WebMD for common symptoms and what they mean, but in today's digital world, do they leave us any choice?

Here is a telling interview with a doctor who sheds light on why so many doctors are still operating in the Dark Ages.