MedStar Health is working with a Bethesda-based tech startup firm, Mytonomy, to pioneer a new approach to patient education that delivers individualized instruction through a microlearning software platform that can be accessed from anywhere via the internet. Based on a successful pilot with interventional cardiology patients at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar and Mytonomy are expanding the project to cardiovascular patients across the system and will be adding new learning modules to address other types of procedures and conditions.

Patient education materials are usually provided through pamphlets or printouts of broad information, but this one-size-fits-all approach is not as effective for personalized instruction, and is often not reviewed or understood by patients, according to MedStar. In the MedStar Washington Hospital Center pilot of this new patient-education approach that included more than 300 patients scheduled for heart catheterizations, nearly 90 percent completed the education modules. They also reported feeling less anxious, more confident and appeared to be more engaged throughout their care process.

Physicians and education specialists with the MedStar Simulation Training and Education Lab (SiTEL) and the MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute created the educational content, and Mytonomy’s software platform provides the methodology, access and analytics that measure engagement and effectiveness of the microlearning system. Microlearning provides short, clear bursts of information in the manner most effective for learning in today’s digital-dominated world, according to research. Mytonomy’s system and MedStar’s content mirror this, providing patients and caregivers the information they need to help them to prepare for and recover from a procedure, or to manage a chronic disease, which they can access at their convenience.

“Engaging patients as active partners in their care is an essential aspect of achieving better outcomes and improving chances for long-term health,” says Stephen R.T. Evans, MD, MedStar Health’s chief medical officer. “Giving patients the information and tools to manage their care needs becomes more important than ever when the measure of health is viewed across a person’s life, not in episodic encounters with a hospital.”

The patient education partners are working now to complete the cardiology curriculum with modules for electrophysiology and heart surgeries. Next up, they will create content for patients with diabetes, and women preparing for childbirth and other ob-gyn procedures. Over the next year, they plan to address other major medical areas including general surgery, orthopaedics, eye care, neonatalogy, oncology, vascular procedures and gastroenterology.