Published 2/1/2009
Stuart J. Fischer, MD

YOC introduces “informed patient” feature

AAOS patient education Web site offers new decision-making tool

Your Orthopaedic Connection (YOC), the Academy’s patient information Web site, announces the launch of its newest feature—the Informed Patient module. The new feature is a joint effort between YOC and the AAOS Medical Liability Committee, chaired by Murray Goodman, MD. It’s also one of the first attempts on the World Wide Web to create an interactive tool that will help patients learn more about surgical procedures.

The first module, Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA), will be available next month at www.orthoinfo.org

An educational process
The interactive, well-illustrated modules are designed to provide both patients and physicians with all the necessary information for making a surgical decision. Each module is conceived as an educational process that reviews in sequence:

  • anatomy
  • nature of the disease process
  • symptoms
  • diagnosis
  • nonsurgical treatment options
  • surgical options
  • the surgical procedure
  • types of implants and components
  • postoperative care
  • rehabilitation
  • potential risks and complications

The THA module includes approximately 25 illustrations—more than any previous Academy patient education article or booklet. Radiographs, pictures of components, artists’ drawings, and clinical pictures are used to explain and illustrate the procedure.

The text is written at a seventh-grade reading level, so that patients, families, and caregivers can easily understand it. Voice narration, an added feature that complements the text, can be turned on and off with the click of a mouse.

The Informed Patient feature can be used as a stand-alone educational tool or as a record that the patient has been informed about the procedure, risks, and alternatives of the planned surgical procedure.

Easy to use
Every doctor’s office will have a log-in separate from his or her Academy user name or password. Patients will then use this log-in to create their own passwords. The patient and family or caregiver may then work through the module on an interactive basis.

They may start work on the module, save responses, and return at any time. As they progress through the module, patients are asked to indicate if they have understood the material. Links and a menu bar allow the reader to return to a previous section. Patients are encouraged to think of questions to ask their doctor.

When the module is complete, it may be printed or e-mailed by either patient or physician. An area will be present at the end of the printout where the physician may ask the patient to sign and date the printout indicating that the patient has read and understood the material.

The Informed Patient module is intended to educate patients and to encourage communication. It is not meant as a substitute for a legal informed consent document. It may be used as part of the process and can provide a record that a patient has been given and understands information about the planned procedure.

The module will be active and responses stored for 90 days. After that the responses will be available to the physician for another 30 days. A surgeon may access his or her list of patients at any time. At the end of the 120 days, the information will be removed from the Academy server.

Try it and see for yourself
The module will be demonstrated during the 2009 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. Stop by the YOC booth in Academy Row to see for yourself how it works. Staff will be available to answer any questions you might have.

Other modules planned for the future include total knee replacement, rotator cuff repair, and carpal tunnel release.

Stuart J. Fischer, MD, is a member of the editorial board for Your Orthopaedic Connection, the patient education Web site of the AAOS.