Podcasting - The latest patient education tool

August 23, 2006

iPods impart information in the waiting room, grocery store

iPods impart information in the waiting room, grocery store

Patients in the waiting room at Arizona Heart Institute in Phoenix have a choice. They can thumb through People magazine or check out an iPod from the receptionist and watch a video on, say, cardiac catheterization.

The 27-doctor group introduced the iPods-known mostly as mini music and movie players-at its main office last October. They’re loaded with educational videos that last from two minutes to an hour. Cardiovascular surgeon and iPod proponent Grayson Wheatley III says patients who view a podcast in the waiting room tend to ask more informed, in-depth questions in the exam room. “Due to the podcast, the physician can make the most of his limited time with the patient,” says Wheatley.

In addition to deploying four iPods in the waiting room at its central office, Arizona Heart also has a device dedicated for exam-room duty. Podcasting is spreading to the group’s satellite offices as well. At $300 or so apiece, iPods represent a less expensive hardware platform for patient education than desktops or tablets, notes Wheatley.

Clarian Health Partners, a health system in Indianapolis, has taken a different approach to healthcare podcasting. In July, it began giving free iPods to patients signed up for bariatric surgery. The devices are initially loaded with audio and video clips that prepare patients for their procedure. After the surgery, the iPods are loaded with new material that coaches patients on exercise and diet. Cindy DeBord, a registered nurse in charge of the “HealthPod” program, says Clarian implemented this technology in large part because of its portability.

 “If a patient goes to the grocery store, she can look up a recommended shopping list,” says DeBord. “And she can plug her iPod into a TV in the kitchen and watch a cooking class.”