October 2004 Bulletin

Patients praise Your Orthopaedic Connection

Survey shows usefulness of patient education Web site

By Nancy Fehr

Exactly what I was looking for. I thought it would take hours to find a specific description, but this Web site was the first one I looked at, and the last.”

Comments like this are just part of the information a new survey tool is eliciting about the AAOS patient education Web site, Your Orthopaedic Connection, which can be found at http://www.orthoinfo.org/.

Orthopaedic patients and the public freely access the site to find articles and information on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. Each month, Your Orthopaedic Connection (YOC) records more than 700,000 page views. It’s the most visited section of the AAOS Web site.

When the site was recently redesigned, a short survey was added at the end of each article. Visitors were asked about the usefulness of the site, the level of information, adequacy of graphics and visit trends. Within the first month, more than 11,000 visitors had responded, and the results are overwhelmingly positive, as shown in the accompanying charts.

YOC increases understanding

Visitors use the information in several ways. For many patients, YOC is a strategic tool they can use in partnership with their physician. Patients may visit the site before they meet with a physician, or they may turn to it when considering treatment options. The Web site helps clarify medical problems for patients in simple, understandable terms that they can understand, as these comments indicate:

“It gave sound factual advice on the cause of the problems that I am experiencing with my hip. It has certainly prepared me to see my doctor and to ask pertinent questions.”

“The information in this document expanded the information given by my physiotherapist. It has also given me an opportunity to consider my options in my own space and time before seeing my consultant again.”

“Well-worded explanations—I want the medical terms and my husband wants the ‘real stuff,’ not ‘jargon’ and this satisfied both of us.”

Supplements physician information

Another way that both patients and health care professionals use YOC is to supplement or complement the information delivered during an office visit. Physicians may not be able to spend as much time as the patient would prefer in explaining anatomy and other aspects of the diagnosis. YOC is a useful follow-up, according to these visitors:

“Even when you have a thorough, personable doctor, the information that is given is not quite enough to satisfy the questions that arise after you leave the office.”

“Having seen an orthopaedic surgeon for diagnosis, this site helps me understand much more fully his preliminary diagnosis.”

“The site did a better job of explaining my problem than the orthopaedic doctor I went to.”

“We just came from the doctor and needed some ‘layman’ information on meniscal tears. Thank you!”

“I was dismayed my G.P. hadn’t given me the information that this Web site has given me, and I will now be asking for my son to visit an orthopaedic surgeon.”

Helps health care professionals

Several of those who responded to the survey were health care professionals who regularly use YOC in their practices. Nurses, physical therapists and other health care professionals appreciate the clarity and accuracy of the information, according to these comments:

“I am a physical therapist; this has been very informative and simple enough to pass on to patients.”

“I am a nurse and use this site regularly to obtain patient information to reinforce teaching.”

“I am a vocational evaluator who often gets students with orthopaedic difficulties. Your site provided me with very useful background information that I can pass along.”

“Wonderful information and presentation. You met the challenge of accommodating a wide range of reader abilities. I understand it and will use this to explain to my elderly patient.”

In-depth information as well

YOC goes beyond many general medical sites in the depth and breadth of the information presented. Basic articles, written to an eighth-grade reading level, cover a wide range of conditions and injuries. But more in-depth topics are being added to provide patients with the knowledge they need for informed consent.

“Your technical information was what I was looking for, concise and to the point. I picked your site because I had a hunch that you wouldn’t be wasting my time.”

“This is a great aid to patients who will be having hip replacement surgery. Not only does it enable the patient to understand the procedure itself, but it answers questions regarding what to expect post-surgery. I can’t think of any question I had that wasn’t addressed.”

“I need a total knee replacement in the future, and the information provided at this site was very helpful. I’ve been researching this topic for years because I want to be well prepared when my time comes. I’ve read terms in this article, such as cemented, cementless and hybrid, that I have never heard of before.”

Peace of mind too

Finally, the site provides “peace of mind” for many patients, not only by reinforcing the messages they’ve received from their physician, but also by answering their questions and providing them with appropriate resources.

“I’m having knee surgery and this information has really helped ease my mind.”

“I don’t feel as helpless. It truly helps to strengthen my psychological resolve.”

“Your information helped to confirm my doctor’s diagnosis and relieved my fears about my condition.”

Using YOC in your practice

Your Internet-savvy patients will appreciate any leads you can provide to reliable information. YOC’s Internet address is easy to remember: www.OrthoInfo.org

If you have an OrthoDoc site or a practice Web site, you can link to specific articles about conditions you regularly treat. You can also subscribe to a quarterly newsletter on new postings so you can keep your site up-to-date as materials are revised, updated, or added.

The Academy’s free “Rx for patient education” notepads make it easy for you to “prescribe” Web reading materials. The pads are free, but there is a small shipping fee. To request sample “Rx” notepads, e-mail: fehr@aaos.org

For patients without Web access, print outs of the materials on YOC related to their diagnosis and treatment options are helpful.

Nancy Fehr is a staff writer for Your Orthopaedic Connection. She can be reached at fehr@aaos.org

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