August 2004 Bulletin

AAOS expands, updates patient education Web site

New look, more features on Your Orthopaedic Connection

By J. Sybil Biermann, MD

Just about everything your patients need to know about musculoskeletal health care will be found at the newly updated AAOS patient/public education Web site, Your Orthopaedic Connection. If you haven’t visited lately, I urge you to spend some time exploring the site and considering how you can use it in your practice.

The contemporary look and streamlined navigation may be the most obvious changes, but additional enhancements make this an even more valuable Web destination for orthopaedic surgeons, orthopaedic patients, referring physicians and allied health professionals. Several projects now in the works will add breadth and depth to existing materials on the Web site, as well as interactive features to involve visitors and enhance their understanding of musculoskeletal topics.

Redesigned home page

The redesigned home page emphasizes the most important aspect of Your Orthopaedic Connection (YOC)—its patient education library. Articles are grouped by body part (neck, shoulder, spine, arm/elbow, hand/wrist, hip, knee, foot/leg) as well as by topic area (general information, arthritis, children, injury prevention, osteoporosis, patient safety, sports/exercise, women’s health). An “En Espaņol” section contains articles in Spanish, along with English subtitles for easy identification.

A special section called “In the News” features links to timely orthopaedic topics being covered in the media, and is updated weekly. There’s also a new area for health care professionals that provides links to additional materials available from the AAOS, such as publication resources and referring guidelines. “Featured Resources” links to materials such as The Body Almanac, enabling visitors to purchase materials for their home libraries.

Subscribing to the YOC quarterly e-newsletter ensures that you’ll always know what’s been updated or added to the site. In the future, we hope to expand and personalize this newsletter to target a visitor’s specific interests. A feedback section, enabling visitors to comment on the materials and their helpfulness, will soon be operational.

Within the site

More enhancements can be found throughout the site. The “Find an Orthopaedist” and search functions, for example, now appear on every page. Longer documents will include hyperlinks to enable viewers to move quickly to the section that interests them most.

YOC has always offered basic information on a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. The redesigned site will also contain more in-depth information that may help a patient make an informed decision or enlighten a referring physician about a specific topic. These articles, written by members of the AAOS, include X-rays and other illustrations as well as links to journal articles and abstracts. An author attribution page, crediting both author and reviewers, will be part of each new article added to the site. Attribution will be displayed in a pop-up Web window and will include the date of original posting and the most recent review date.

Reviews of material are ongoing. The Patient Education Committee of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, for example, recently completed the first comprehensive review and updating of the articles in the Children’s section of YOC.

A reader feedback survey will also be included with every article. Viewers will have the opportunity to say whether the article was helpful and whether it contained the information they needed. Visitor comments will be reviewed by the Patient Education Committee and used in planning additional articles for the site.

If you have an OrthoDoc site, you can easily link to materials on Your Orthopaedic Connection to populate your own patient education site. You can link to specific articles you select as relevant to the scope of your practice. Take advantage of the Academy’s free OrthoDoc Web site to establish an Internet presence for your personal or group practice.

Future plans

Work is underway to add enhanced graphics, animation and interactivity to Your Orthopaedic Connection. Already the most popular section of the AAOS Web site, YOC currently attracts more than 800,000 page views a month. The planned enhancements, the increasing number of people afflicted with musculoskeletal conditions and the ever-increasing use of the Internet as an information source should make it an even more popular destination.

As orthopaedic patients come to trust YOC and the AAOS for authoritative information on musculoskeletal conditions, the AAOS hopes to build on that relationship to educate patients on local and national health care issues. Future plans include introducing bulletin boards, discussion groups or chat rooms where patients with the same condition or similar problems can meet and connect. Live, real-time chats between patients and orthopaedic surgeons or hosted, formal presentations could become part of the site as well.

If you are interested in contributing to AAOS patient education materials with articles, graphics, animations or other patient education content, please contact me. Greater involvement by Academy fellows will continue to keep our patient education site at the forefront of musculoskeletal patient education.

Patient education has never been more important to your practice than it is today. Patient education not only improves compliance with treatment regimes and patient satisfaction, it can also reduce length of hospital stay and may even reduce your exposure to a medical liability claim. Take advantage of the breadth and depth of information available to your patients through Your Orthopaedic Connection

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