DIGITAL TOOLS FOR PATIENT EDUCATION
Gone are the days of health information consisting of paper pamphlets and paper notes. With the rise of digital patient education materials, we now have innovative ways to communicate health information. In fact, many health facilities employ PowerPoint loops, illustrated texts, and/or audiovisual content. Audiovisual content presents a unique opportunity as it involves speech and video. As the pace quickens for digital technology in healthcare, how patients learn health information may improve remarkably.
STUDIES SHOW AN IMPROVEMENT IN PATIENT LEARNING
In a 2019 study, researchers assessed the effects of audiovisual learning media on student learning metrics. They found that the experimental group who received audiovisual learning media scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice assessment.
Even more telling, in a 2020 study, researchers explored the effects of online case-based video patient education tools on dental patients’ adoption of oral health behaviors. They did not find a significant improvement for dental patients with prior professional oral health care. However, patients with no prior experience in professional oral health care showed a significant improvement in behavioral outcomes (i.e. dental hygiene practices). This study shows the importance of audiovisual techniques on patient learning, especially for those patients with inadequate health literacy.
POSSIBLE REASONS FOR AUDIOVISUAL’S IMPACT ON LEARNING
One process called dual coding presents a possible explanation for the effects seen with audiovisual learning strategies. In a 2019 review, researchers describe dual coding theory as a process of learning verbal and visual imagery simultaneously, which may significantly improve learning.
This audiovisual pathway uniquely works with human cognition as the association between sound and image generates stronger connections. The content can be made easier to understand as it is stored in the prefrontal cortex and then converted into long-term memory in the hippocampus.
Overall, using more than one type of stimuli may improve how we store information in long-term memory. We have yet to determine the full extent to which audiovisual technology aids in learning processes. However, as digital health education technologies transform, audiovisual learning remains a promising technique to improve learning outcomes.