The popularity and success of e-learning has reached unprecedented heights. It transcends the boundaries of different industries and audience profiles. In healthcare too, e-learning initiatives have been successful in creating impactful learning experiences for medical practitioners – using high-end technologies like 3D animations and virtual simulations.
For the patients, however, these e-learning initiatives are just a computerized version of the information-heavy pamphlets available at the doctors’ office! But the scope of e-learning for training and educating patients is much more – much more, indeed, than just creating ‘awareness’ that healthcare is now technology-enabled!
Here are some ways that we adopted to create an e-learning solution for a leading non-profit organization. The learning initiative was targeted at adolescents/young adults and their caregivers. For an adolescent, to be diagnosed with a serious illness is daunting. It is even more frightening when the disease brings along lifelong implications on the expected quality of life. Parents or caregivers too are often at a loss coming to terms with the reality of the disease, and they fumble for ways to bring a sense of normalcy into their lives. In addition to the necessary medical care, what patients and their caregivers need is support – in terms of what the disease is, what it entails, how to manage it and, above all, how to go on with their lives. The learning initiative aimed at not only educating the patients but empowering them to deal with the medical condition and its effects on their life.
- When talking about the disease and its debilitating effects on the young body, the topic is often engulfed by morbidity. The disease does not have a complete cure – but can be managed well with medicines, vaccinations and the right lifestyle choices. We realized that the course needed to bring this out.To make our learners comfortable and at ease with their diagnosis, we introduced a ‘buddy’ – Ashley, a 17-year-old girl coping well with the disease. For young patients, peer connect is essential. Ashley is just like any other teenager – vivacious and energetic. She finds an instant connect with the audience and they perceive her as ‘one of us’. She affirms that ‘you are an expert on you’ – giving the learner the confidence to face and manage the disease.
- Buddy Ashley talks to the learners about her condition in simple terms, and she is testimony that it is possible to lead a normal life – beyond the realities of the disease. She is the one who introduces all major topics in the course.
- The accompanying audio is in a friendly, conversational tone, thus maintaining an informal approach to instruction. The overall language of the course seeks to invoke optimism in the face of the disease. The theme of living with the disease runs throughout the course, but without any negative connotations that might ‘victimize’ the patient.
- To connect with the learners, the course includes relevant scenarios in each module. The scenarios highlight the conditions of different IBD patients and show how they are coping with their IBD in terms of disease identification, treatment, and management.
- Images and graphics play an important role in setting the context for each module, which helped us to reduce the text-content substantially. For example, we used a classroom setting for the module on introduction to the disease, and a kitchen environment for most of the backgrounds in the module on nutrition. This approach worked well with the young audience and made the course more appealing. In addition, since young audiences are more receptive to pictorial representation of content, we used relevant graphics and interactivities to increase the learner’s engagement and help retention.
- Interactive and printable resources encourage the learner to interact more with the content of the course and find better utility for the information shared. For instance, in the ‘Office Visit Form’ shared with the learners, we used animation to highlight each field in order to show the learner how to fill the complete form. Learners can also print this form, which helps them to be better prepared for their next visit to the doctor because they can fill it beforehand and save time and effort. Similarly, learners can also download the ‘Food log’ and a ‘Growth log’ forms, which help them to cope with the disease by themselves.
- A special section is devoted to the financial aspect of coping with the disease. In this module, learners study the types of insurance policies and how they cover the disease. Since the disease often has long-lasting effects well into adulthood, and could also necessitate surgery, practical advice and tips to choose the right insurance cover are shared – in a simple language that makes sense to the patients as well as their guardians.
- The psychological needs of the patients are also addressed in the course. Real-life scenarios are shared, with experiences of actual patients and their success stories. Practical advice on handling the workload at home or school is given, along with the right lifestyle choices that would make it easier to cope with the disease.
- Each module also has a special “Things to Do” section which highlights the steps the learner needs to take next, after going through the relevant information. This is an interactive and practical exercise that makes patients and caregivers more confident.
By mingling information with practical insights and resources, the e-learning initiative does not just educate the learners but also empowers them. The built-in interactivities garner learner attention as well as provide a practice-run for actual real-life situations that they often face – at home and school and at the healthcare facility. The online learning course can be accessed on the organization website and found a steady audience within weeks of its launch. The technology-enabled platform not only aligns to the preferences of the young audience, it gives them the opportunity to learn whenever they perceive the need. The modular structure gives them the option of choosing relevant parts for revision or for a quick refresher.
Thus this e-learning initiative is able to create much more than just awareness. It successfully imparts knowledge – as well as the ways to utilize the knowledge to the fullest – and re-enforces that with interactivities to practice what is learnt in practical real-life situations. To learn more about our experiences in the Healthcare industry, write to [email protected] or fill the form below:
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