FROM THE UROLOGY CARE FOUNDATION PRESIDENT: Patient Education: Past, Present, Future
By: Harris Nagler, MD, FACS | Posted on: 01 Jul 2022
Global Improvement in urological care is predicated on medical research, humanitarian efforts and patient education. The belief that education, and specifically patient education, is a critical element in the elimination of health care disparities and improving health care of patients drives me to utilize this column to share with you the evolution of the Urology Care Foundation’s efforts to provide accurate, appropriate and accessible resources for patients worldwide. As technology advances, so must we advance and adapt the resources it produces to exceed the expectations of the global audiences it serves. Let me take you from the past to the present, and into the future of our efforts.
Under our original name, the American Foundation for Urologic Disease, the Foundation began developing publicly available patient education materials in 2006. In conjunction with this effort, the Foundation also launched the UrologyHealth.org website and the patient magazine, UrologyHealth extra®.
Over the course of the next 5 years, the Foundation took on the role of serving as a credible source of patient information. Just as medical research improved during this period, technology significantly changed the way we all communicate as consumer behavior shifted significantly to the Internet and social media.
In 2011, we joined the social media movement by establishing Twitter and Facebook accounts. This new form of global communication allowed for real-time, 2-way engagement with patients and their caregivers.
Technology demands organizations adapt quickly. Just 3 years after the AUA Education and Research Board of Directors approved the new Urology Care Foundation name in 2012, the website experienced its first redesign to include new features such as Care Blogs. Within a year the site attracted 3 million views annually.
As we were able to share our mission and science electronically, our demands for educational material skyrocketed as well. In 2016 alone more than 35,000 patient education materials were downloaded and nearly 73,000 patient education pieces were ordered.
Since I began my tenure as the Urology Care Foundation Board president in 2018 the Foundation has witnessed a considerable increase in productivity. With the outstanding leadership of our patient education chairs the total number of downloadable patient education materials grew 260% in that time. Today there are more than 600 pieces available.
To ensure these resources are available to all members of our community the Foundation began translating a majority of its patient education library into Spanish. Additionally, we recently launched a Spanish resource center on the website which promotes and houses our Spanish translation patient education materials, videos and Urology A-Z condition articles.
Those seeking information about their urological symptoms or caregivers in search of information for a loved one continue to turn to UrologyHealth.org. The website welcomed 12 million total visitors in 2021 as it serves as a critical gateway to all of our target audiences.
With approximately 140,000 followers, the Foundation’s social channels continue to gain momentum as patients and their caregivers engage with the online urological community. Consumers continue to seek out answers to their medical questions in video form. The Foundation currently has more than 90 patient-friendly videos and podcast recordings, and the Foundation’s YouTube™ channel will surpass 1 million views since its inception just a few years ago.
As COVID limited in-person patient appointments, health care professionals embraced more advanced technologies, such as QR codes for quick access to patient resources. The benefits of QR codes include global utilization via telehealth appointments and the ability to print them on demand at the end of in-office appointments or upload them to telehealth platforms such as Cerner and EPIC MyChart®. To date we have launched 27 patient education QR codes, including 8 which feature translations.
While everyone involved in these milestones over the last 2 decades should be proud of these terrific accomplishments, it’s important to acknowledge the future challenges the Foundation will face and explore opportunities to raise public awareness through education.
The Patient Education Council and its Committees (PECC) strives to ensure the Foundation is addressing the breadth and depth of urology and communicating the science to patients in an accessible manner through multiple media. In 2022 the PECC plans to complete nearly 200 projects to include translations, fact sheets, podcasts, videos and new condition content for the website. PECC’s leadership and the Urology Care Foundation’s vision of improving urological care globally are reflected by current educational offerings in 9 languages which better meet the needs of underrepresented populations.
The Urology Care Foundation is committed to achieving excellence in global urological care by fostering medical research, supporting humanitarian efforts and providing medical information.
Although the challenges are great the need is greater, and our opportunities to make a difference drive us toward that goal.