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Health Center's online program helps patients help themselves

by Carolyn Pennington - February 2, 2009


A new online tool designed to help patients maximize the quality of their health care is being offered through the Health Center.

Believed to be the first of its kind, HealthEcademy is a convenient, free program that can be accessed through the Internet by clicking on http://healthecademy.uchc.edu/ any time of day or night.

HealthEcademy features several video presentations by School of Medicine faculty and other Health Center experts, who provide practical information on a number of health-related topics to enable individuals to become better, more successful patients and patient advocates.

“The task of navigating today’s complex health care system is becoming more challenging and frustrating for patients everywhere,” says Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“Patients continuously seek practical information to help them achieve better outcomes. The demand for such information continues to grow, yet people often don’t know where to turn to receive information that is current and credible. As leaders in academic medicine, we’ve established the nation’s first HealthEcademy to address this growing public health need.”

HealthEcademy participants will be able to identify their rights and responsibilities as a patient or patient advocate, employ strategies to optimize doctors’ office visits and hospitalizations, and find and use reliable sources of health information to increase their understanding of medical conditions and treatment options.

Course topics include:

  • “Questions You Were Never Asked … But Should Have Been” – how to optimize doctors’ office visits and make efficient use of time spent with health care providers.
  • “A Roadmap to Reliable Health Information” – how to find reliable and accurate sources of health information and evaluate web sites.
  • “Understanding the Results of Diagnostic or Screening Tests” – how to interpret diagnostic and screening test findings and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the diagnostic process.
Dr. Scott Wetstone and Wendy Soneson discuss the new online health education program.
Dr. Scott Wetstone and Wendy Soneson discuss the new online health education program. Photo by Carolyn Pennington
  • “Legal and Ethical Issues at the End of Life” – practical information about treatment decisions at the end of life that are consistent with the patient’s goals and values.
  • “Understanding HIPAA Privacy” – an outline of the many facets of privacy protection to which patients are entitled under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

These video presentations total more than three and a half hours of instruction.

“We believe HealthEcademy can significantly help people become wise and savvy health care consumers by providing the tools they need to negotiate today’s health care environment with confidence,” says Dr. Scott Wetstone of the Department of Community Medicine and Health Care.

“Knowledge and information are the foundation for maximizing patient care and being your own best advocate, and direct instruction from professionals is the best way to build that foundation.”

Program manager Wendy Soneson says, “This educational program, which we believe is the first of its kind in the nation, is for everyone. I think we’re offering something of real value to people.”

Soneson notes that users can watch all the presentations or pick and choose the topics that most interest them.

“As an academic institution,” she adds, “our mission is to educate, and we think we’ve done that.”

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