Patient education provided through Internet-connected computer-based programs continues to expand, especially for individuals suffering from chronic disease. Telehealth patient education combines the provision of care, health information with online peer support, decision support, and even help with behavior change.
Patient health education programs have shown an increase in patient’s understanding of health information, feelings of support, and even some improvement in clinical outcomes among patients. Evidence is available suggesting that home-based information technology interventions can reduce healthcare costs, and is useful for reducing incidents of smoking and improving diet. As telehealth and computer-based technologies continue to grow and interface with healthcare, more research is needed to determine the best ways to deliver interactive care. However, telehealth-based patient education programs can aid in assisting individuals in making care decisions. These “decision aids” (education through telehealth) can improve a patient’s knowledge of risk and can increase people’s involvement and degree of comfort with their caregiver’s decision making.
When employing a patient education program, health systems face the responsibility of determining how best to proactively enable more accessible interactions and environments that promote health and well-being. Telehealth and patient communication technologies play a significant role in this role. However, in a remote patient education program, health systems are responsible for patient health literacy. These health systems must determine the parameters of patient health interaction, the physical setting, communication style, content, mode of information provided, and the technology used to deliver the education. With thresholds met, only then can consideration be given to patient preferences regarding communication styles, content, and delivery models.
Patient communication can be tailored for each patient to account for their preference for the type of media used to deliver the education, along with the frequency of contact and the skills or competencies of individuals. Some people may prefer the use the telephone, video conferencing, and still, others prefer a text message.