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Designing patient education programmes for MOOCs

On MOOC platforms, pharma can offer innovative patient education programmes with collaboration between health professionals and patients themselves.

Effective patient education programmes are vital. HCPs, pharma and patients themselves all agree on this. Each participant in the healthcare journey may have different motivations for wanting deeper patient education, but the end results are always the same: better patient outcomes, stronger self-management, more activated patients, and less non-adherence. It’s win-win-win for all parties.  

Why patient education is so important

Just knowing the name of a condition is not enough for patients to grasp exactly what’s happening to their bodies; what they can do to ease discomfort, or why it happened and how they can encourage healing and prevent recurrence.  

Diagnosis is only the first step. What follows is an often long and sometimes harrowing journey. In some circumstances the old saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ may be true, but it’s far from helpful to patients who need to monitor and manage chronic conditions. Diabetes is a good example because of the complexity involved in treating it. Patients need to become familiar with:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Albumin to creatinine ratios
  • Haemoglobin A levels
  • Nephropathy
  • Neuropathy    
And that’s not even an exhaustive list of the conditions diabetic patients should ideally be aware of. We take good health for granted, but when things go wrong there’s often a steep learning curve. How well patients learn to manage complicated health conditions determines their risk of future complications.  

The face of education has changed dramatically in the 21st century, and so has the way we all think about, and approach, learning. There is now a massive opportunity for pharma to develop innovative patient education programmes by embracing MOOC delivery methods.

Distance learning comes of age

Most households have smartphones, desktop computers or laptops, tablets, broadband or mobile internet connections. There’s no longer any need to sit in a traditional classroom to learn something new.  

Education is, finally, freely available to most of the population via Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Even universities are offering worldwide students access to courses, often without charge. Popular MOOC platforms include Future Learn, Coursera, Udemy, EdX and Iversity. There are plenty of others. This open learning opportunity is a rich way for pharma to create innovative patient education programmes.  

Collaborative learning

Studies have found that MOOCs for patients are relatively thin on the ground. While there are plenty of medical learning courses for healthcare professionals, students and those with a general interest in disease or specific conditions, there’s very little in the way of materials for individual patients.  

MOOC courses for patients could also open up interaction between patients through group sessions, leading patients towards better self-management. In addition, a greater opportunity exists to scale patient education and provide collaboration between professionals and patients. Information delivery methods include:

  • Audio lectures
  • Presentations
  • Video lectures
  • Live streaming with health professionals    
Distance learning of this kind also allows patients to download educational materials for future review when there’s no internet connection.  

Safe learning with certified patient education programmes

Internet education, and the possibility of patient-to-patient interaction, isn’t without its dangers. These mostly come from a lack of professional moderation allowing the circulation of inaccurate information.  

Professionally created MOOCs can uphold ethical standards and maintain a focus on qualitative, clinically proven information. Certification from the Health on the Net Foundation (HON), for instance, reassures patients that websites comply with HON guidelines. This is especially important with those patients who are newly diagnosed and therefore still in a fairly passive, information-seeking state of mind.  

Patient information programmes on the MOOC platform, professionally led and certified, can guide patients safely into health literacy and self-management, while still providing patient interaction and a sense of community and belonging.

This blog was originally published here:

26th March 2018



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