Problems communicating with your patient?

November 1, 2006

A better informed patient is a goal that all healthcare professionals strive for. Better informed patients are able to make better choices about their healthcare and give informed consent for a procedure.






As an ophthalmologist, the procedures that you perform are incredibly intricate and complex. So when it comes to communicating with a patient, it's understandable that difficulties may arise when explaining technical and scientific fact. As a result of this unavoidable barrier, there can be a breakdown in communication between patient and doctor.

A study, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (August 2005), assessed people attending a municipal teaching hospital in New York City, USA. Less than half of people remembered their diagnosis, the name and purpose of their medicine and what side effects their medicine might have.

In all ophthalmic procedures, however, patient expectations need to be managed carefully. After all, it is a well-known fact that, even if surgical outcomes are not ideal, if a patient is fully informed throughout the course of treatment, they are a happier patient compared with those patients who have been operated on successfully but have not been communicated to by their surgeon.

How do we tackle the problem?

In recognition of the importance of patient education, BUPA has taken advantage of web technology to produce easy-to-follow animations of surgical procedures. The first series of animations includes phacoemulsfication surgery.

The animation is embedded in two of BUPA's patient factsheets (Cataracts and Cataract surgery), which support the animation by providing detailed information about the procedure.

What do patients think?

In order to ensure that the animations are useful for patients, BUPA is running a survey on its website and this has already provided positive feedback.