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DEI in Patient Education Improves Engagement and Reduces Costs

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Embedding diversity into channels and platforms like Emi is a personalized educational tool for Walters Kluwer Health patients, leveraged by providers, payers and partners to help patients understand their healthcare decisions. It’s about empowering and encouraging them to participate in decisions, says brand and creative director Evan Heigert. He oversees patient engagement throughout Wolters Kluwer Health.

Diversity “always yields richer stories,” but Heigert said his user experience and creative teams are committed to ensuring that minority communities are aware of the health-related information they receive and access. is focused on building trust with minority communities.

When it comes to things like healthcare, “it’s very important to build trust and develop patient representatives so they feel seen and heard,” he said. said they may have been mistrusted or underestimated in healthcare.

Enhancing diversity is more than just ticking boxes on diversity, equity and inclusion in health. A deliberate effort towards DEI should be made to create educational materials, whether print or multimedia, to strengthen the provider-patient relationship.

Revitalization of maternal and child health education

To squarely address cultural misconceptions and mistrust of various medical institutions, including maternal health, Heigert’s team recently updated Wolters Kluwer Health’s childbirth program. It is one of the most utilized patient education programs.

They modernized the figure’s visuals and presentation, but the key change was the voice used for the copy. explained.

“We turned it around and made it a little more patient-oriented, encouraging and empowering,” he said.

“Regardless of their background or medical history, they always deserve respect and personalized care, so simply encouraging the language will help them feel in control and address questions. , will be able to ask: Poor experience in the healthcare field.”

Measuring how the reactivated maternal health program was received, patients reported positive patient feedback from the survey at the end of the program. They reported feeling they were more representative and the language more familiar.

“Over the last 18 months, we have focused on creating new programs that are more personalized and have placed a greater emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion,” he said. We observed a 30% increase in initiation rates compared to the old program. , He said.

On the provider side, patient engagement videos and outreach calls generally yield measurable results, according to a follow-up email from a Wolters Kluwer Health representative.

After adopting EmmiJourneys, a personalized post-clinical support version of Emmi featuring omnichannel content, Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, Mississippi, found that:

  • 50% more likely to attend a follow-up appointment with a primary care provider within 21 days after discharge.
  • 26% reduction in avoidable emergency room visits.
  • Fewer emergency room visits mean lower costs, which can be up to nearly $89,000 per 1,000 patient discharges.
  • Readmission rates within 30 days decreased from 27% to 65%, depending on whether patients engaged in some or all of the prescribed Emmi program.

Looking back at programs from five to 10 years ago, “I’m pretty sure we haven’t worked on as many experiences as we should have,” he says.

Wolters Kluwer Health’s creative team is currently reviewing its library of content, high-usage patient education programs and information programs specifically for minority communities on an annual basis. Members look for opportunities to audit visuals and languages ​​(tone artists and voice artists) and either rewrite those programs or change certain attributes of the programs to make them more inclusive.

“It’s something that has to be learned, developed, and evolved over time, and we’ve certainly seen that in the work we’ve done,” said Heigert.

Wolters Kluwer Health’s in-house editorial team works with the Patient Advisory Board to gather feedback on educational programs for patients and with providers, peer clients, healthcare professionals and third-party consultants. By adopting key tactics, the House creative team is implementing DEI in patient-facing materials.

Building trust through universal design

Reflecting diversity, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, family composition, and ability level also improves the medical accuracy of the information provided to patients, Heigert explained.

One example of this is sharing information about what measles looks like, and “based on various experiences, I want people to see the expression and symptoms of the disease really accurately. Colors are presented in both light and dark colors,” he said.

Creative teams can also use a “show and say it” approach with illustrations, on-screen text, and audio formats.

One example is the evolution of Emi’s voice. Emi is a white woman who has historically passed on information in a very empathetic way. “But it was restrictive in terms of the audience we were talking to,” he said.

Over time, they discovered, “It is true that patients inherently trust the voices coming from their community more than those who speak to them from the outside.” They expanded their roster of professional voice actors to represent a broader and more diverse set of voices.

“There is so much content that it would be impossible to customize all of it to accommodate every patient,” but patient materials present “many perspectives over time.” can do.

Enable access to all competencies and modalities

As digital interactions become the norm, healthcare providers and other stakeholders will need to provide access to patient information across diverse audiences.

“Digital interactions are increasing rapidly. It used to be that you would talk to your doctor face to face. If you don’t understand something, you can ask.

“That’s what we’re trying to enable, and it’s a better question to ask patients, but we understand that access to that digital information alone is very important and comes in many ways. ‘ he added.

A broader approach to content delivery and providing tools to make content accessible to people with other abilities is where equity comes into play, he said.

Some simple techniques that all providers can implement in their patient communications include compliance with the web accessibility standard known as WCAG 2.0, closed captioning, and enabling a script reader to convert all content text-to-speech. , ensuring that content is available in a variety of formats. , including printing.

Bridging the health literacy gap

You can also address the growing health literacy gap in the United States by creating thoughtful patient engagement content.

Patients have a lot of information at their fingertips, but with it comes misinformation.

According to Heigert, the U.S. Department of Education found that 80 million people have low health literacy, more than 65% of whom are from minority communities.

“Our guiding North Star is to empower patients to deliver evidence-based information in an engaging way,” he said.

What is his advice to providers and payers on how to address topics for patients and members? It should be easy to understand,” he said.

Aim for language that is approachable, empathetic to their situation, and ultimately empowering them to make a decision, he advises. This includes using non-clinical language wherever possible, such as poop instead of feces and weed instead of cannabis.

Telecommunications industry standards target a 4th or 5th grade reading level. “And it’s not about taking the information lightly. It’s about making it clear and simple for patients to understand beyond their educational level. We’re getting this information,” he said.

He also advises using visual metaphors to illustrate complex topics. A simple example is to use the water balloon example to talk to your birth partner about what to expect before birth. You can also pour out a little water at a time.

“Describing the experience and showing visual metaphors helps the patient internalize it and personalize whatever their reality is,” he said.

Patients first at the forefront

Heigert says that when considering advanced technologies for communicating with patients, such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence, start with the patient’s needs and challenges, and then look at the technology options for how to deliver content in impactful ways. I advise you to consider

“The key thing to keep in mind when talking about technology is to approach it from the patient’s point of view first, understand their needs and their ability to access content, and provide it in different ways so that they can access it. is,” he said.

Wolters Kluwer Health uses a combination of audio and visual content such as text, voice call and web-based video with self-selected personalization options to interact with patients about relevant health information .

In addition to diversifying narration, Wolters Kluwer is also using voice-assisted technology to interact with content through applications such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, Heigert said.

“One of the trends we see in the industry is that AI voices generally have very white voices.” I am considering how to do it. information delivery.

As for the future of addressing patient information, “Personalization and representation go hand in hand. We can meet patients where they are,” concluded Heigert.

Andrea Fox is senior editor for Healthcare IT News.

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.