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Published 12/1/2011
Stuart J. Fischer, MD

Make OrthoInfo part of your patient education program

Website reinforces physician-patient relationship

Patients often search the Internet for information about a medical problem, even before they see a doctor. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 60 percent of all adults search for health information online. They want easy-to-understand, readily available information. But simply typing a topic into a search engine doesn’t guarantee accurate or helpful results.

If your patients look for information about musculoskeletal conditions on the Internet, you’ll do yourself and them a favor by directing them to the AAOS patient information website, OrthoInfo.org

OrthoInfo (Your Orthopaedic Connection) contains more than 612 articles on orthopaedic topics geared specifically toward patients. Written and peer-reviewed by orthopaedic surgeons, OrthoInfo articles provide in-depth information that supplements and reinforces the information you provide to your patients.

Information you can trust
An editorial board representing 13 orthopaedic specialties develops topics, recruits authors, and reviews all content on OrthoInfo. Many articles are written in conjunction with specialty societies. For example, pediatric orthopaedic articles are written by a committee of Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) authors and also appear on the POSNA website.

“Each year, members of POSNA’s Public Education and Media Relations Committee collaborate with OrthoInfo to create new topics and update existing topics,” said B. Stephens Richards III, MD, past president of POSNA and pediatric section editor. “This working relationship benefits both the AAOS and POSNA, enabling both organizations to share the most up-to-date pediatric-related education material on their websites.”

As senior editor of OrthoInfo, Laura Giblin ensures that the articles are patient-friendly.

“We develop the articles at about an eighth-grade reading level, and organize the content in a consistent format,” said Ms. Giblin. “This makes the orthopaedic concepts easier to understand. We’re continually adding images because pictures often explain concepts more clearly than words.”

New content is posted every month and breaking news is added when it happens. (See “What’s new on OrthoInfo?”)

Currently, OrthoInfo contains 365 clinical topics on orthopaedic conditions and procedures and approximately 200 articles highlighting injury prevention, patient safety, and orthopaedic news. In addition, 54 of the most-viewed clinical topics have been translated into Spanish. OrthoInfo works with the AAOS International Committee to identify new articles for translation. OrthoInfo also works closely with the AAOS Communications Cabinet to ensure that wellness and injury prevention articles are kept up-to-date.

A new look, coming soon
Plans are in progress to completely redesign the OrthoInfo site, which was last restructured in 2007. As part of the 2012 redesign, OrthoInfo will integrate more fully with the AAOS OrthoPortal.

“The redesign of OrthoInfo will provide further evidence of the AAOS commitment to patient education as well as physician education,” said William A. Grana, MD, editor-in-chief, AAOS Online Publications. “The redesign will allow integration of the search functions on the OrthoPortal with OrthoInfo content, and put all the content a member may need in one place for ease of access and use.”

A new look for the OrthoInfo home page is planned, with more features, including an expanded area for Academy news and public relations stories. An updated navigation system will enable viewers to move more easily from one article on the site to any other. A stronger search engine will make it easier for patients to browse the site. An OrthoInfo “app” is also planned so that patients can access all articles and features from a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet personal computer.

Musculoskeletal “healthcenters”
In the near future, OrthoInfo will offer patients a new way to learn about musculoskeletal conditions—health centers. These portals will bring together information for patients and physicians from a variety of resources in an interactive approach to a specific topic. Two health centers—Deep Vein Thrombosis and Save Your Knees—already exist on the site; centers on Arthritis, Joint Replacement, and Bone Health are in development.

The editorial board is also working with the AAOS Patient Education Committee to create video vignettes that will supplement the text material for selected topics.

OrthoInfo currently gets more than one million visitors per month, and visitors average 2.2 page views per visit. Most topics will come up number one or two when using the Google or AOL search engines. (See “What patients are reading.”)

Use it—it’s free
OrthoInfo is one of the best educational tools that you can offer your patients. The website is the largest source of orthopaedic patient information on the Internet and has the largest orthopaedic patient information library anywhere.

You can print out individual articles or give your computer-savvy patients links to appropriate topics. An “Rx for patient education” module enables you to create customized printouts for your patients of articles that you want them to read after their office appointment. You can also link your practice website directly to OrthoInfo.org, or to specific materials on the site.

OrthoInfo gives your patients the information they need to know—and it’s all free. Take advantage of it.

Stuart J. Fischer, MD, is a member of the AAOS Now editorial board and associate editor of OrthoInfo.

What patients are reading
The following are the most viewed topics on OrthoInfo:

  • Sprained ankle
  • Stress fractures of the foot and ankle
  • Meniscal tears
  • Biceps tendon tear at the shoulder
  • Surgical treatment for rotator cuff tears
  • Bunion surgery
  • Scaphoid fractures
  • Knee arthroscopy
  • Total knee replacement

What’s new on OrthoInfo?
The following article topics were recently added to OrthoInfo:

  • Platelet-rich plasma
  • Metal-on-metal hip replacements
  • Scoliosis (5-part series)
  • SLAP lesions
  • Rotator cuff tears and rotator cuff tears surgical options
  • Hip arthroscopy
  • Pain management after orthopaedic surgery
  • Patellofemoral arthritis
  • Ewing’s sarcoma
  • Chondroblastoma
  • Vitamin D for good bone health
  • Adult forearm fractures
  • Osteotomy of the knee
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta