Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, July 09, 2007

Read this OA article and call me in the morning

Lola Butcher, What the Devil Is Information Therapy? Managed Care Magazine, June 2007.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

When Ted Eytan, MD, treats a patient with a broken rib, he positions the computer screen in the exam room so that his patient can look at the X-ray. He describes what the image shows, then clicks to call up a drawing of the rib to give context to the discussion.

"It makes a huge difference, even if it's just a fracture, to say 'Here's the part of the bone that we want to heal,'" says Eytan, a family practice physician who contracts with Group Health Cooperative in Seattle.

Welcome to information therapy, the practice of providing more and better information to patients so they can contribute more to their healing....

[Paul Wallace, MD, medical director of health and productivity management programs at Kaiser Permanente], Eytan, and others are part of the effort to increase the use of information therapy in American health care. Their premise is that the huge gap between what the physician knows and what the patient understands is detrimental to a patient's health, leading to poor outcomes and higher-than-necessary costs.

"We know that between 50 percent and 80 percent of everything a patient hears in a doctor's office is completely forgotten by the time he or she gets home," says Joshua Seidman, PhD, president and CEO of the Center for Information Therapy. The abundance of health information available on the Internet is not always as useful as its authors intend it to be....

For some providers, information therapy is literally a physician-written prescription telling a patient to read specific information, learn it, and apply it. For others, information therapy is used to help a patient make treatment decisions, such as whether to continue chemotherapy....

James Hereford, executive vice president for strategic services and quality at Group Health Cooperative, says that GHC physicians use information therapy to connect the exam room with the living room regardless of who in the living room is best able to use the information.

If that patient with a broken rib is computer-savvy, for example, Eytan identifies a Web site that will reinforce information that the doctor covers during the appointment: the best way to lie down, pain-relief options, likely recovery time, and so forth. Because it is the same information that has been discussed during the office visit, patients can use it to remind themselves of what the doctor said or to conduct further research....


  • This is a great example of how OA changes clinical practice and improves health care.  Imagine doing this with toll-access literature.  ("Will my insurance company cover that pay-per-view fee?")
  • For a similar initiative, see the NLM's Information Rx pilot project, launched in February 2005.