Patient instructing a doctor off a tablet
HealthMarch 30, 2022

Let’s hear from the patient: Including patient voices in continuing medical education

By: Jennifer S. Tirnauer, M.D.
Patient case histories are an integral component of medical education. But the voices of actual patients are not always heard in educational materials.

Patient testimonials are rarely included in continuing medical education (CME) activities. Case presentations are typically described from the medical team's point of view, summarizing what they saw and heard, what tests they ordered, and how the disease responded to treatment.

But the patient often sees things differently. There is not always an opportunity for them to share the fears that come with a new diagnosis, the frustrations with following the treatment plan after they leave the doctor’s office, or the calm that follows a stressful phase of their care.

Incorporating patient perspectives into CME can broaden the educational experience for clinicians and may lead to more personalized care.

HIMSS 2023: Transforming CME with patient perspectives

Attending HIMSS 2023? Dr. Jennifer Tirnauer and Dr. Kelvin Chou will present on the importance of incorporating patient perspectives into CME and CDS tools, all directly within the clinician workflow to support better patient outcomes.

Join Us At HIMSS 2023

Incorporating patient perspectives into CME accreditation

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) has begun to include patient perspectives in its menu of criteria for CME accreditation. CME is vital to ongoing learning and an integral component of providing high quality care and fits with Wolters Kluwer’s Best Care Everywhere initiative.

The ACCME has identified several potential benefits of incorporating patient voices in CME activities, including:

  • Greater sensitivity to the needs of patients
  • Reminders to see the patient as an individual
  • Identifying gaps in knowledge and information
  • Demonstrating commitment to inclusivity

Decision support tools can benefit from the patient perspective

Providing access to a patient’s point of view within clinician-facing decision support resources adds a valuable perspective that is often omitted from decision support tools. Clinical decision support solutions are uniquely positioned to join patient perspectives together with world-renowned expertise and medical evidence from different specialties.

In 2021, UpToDate began releasing the first of its collection of “Patient Perspectives.” These short (approximately 2000-word) narratives describe the experience of a patient with a medical condition, in their own words.

Each patient narrative is reviewed and edited by physician editors and disease experts to ensure a coherent story and medical accuracy, but the voice is purely that of the patient and their lived experience. These personal descriptions humanize the experience of having a condition and undergoing treatment. They show a side of illness that is often missing from the dry medical information presented in clinical trials, charts, and statistics. Examples of the first few narratives that have been released include the stories of individuals with:

  • New diagnosis of Parkinson disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Chronic urticaria (hives)
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM)

There are other good reasons to incorporate “Patient Perspectives” narratives into the information healthcare professionals already use:

  • Memories of specific patients anchor medical learning from the start. A seasoned clinician weaves the stories of individual patients together with scientific training, evidence, and hands-on experience. The patient's presence, and the dialog between patient and clinician, anchors those memories.
  • Practicing medicine has become increasingly complex, which can distract from the humanity of individual patient stories. Hearing about a disease from the patient's point of view helps clinicians sift through the noise.
  • Balancing the human side and the scientific side is part of what makes medicine so rewarding. Patient stories highlight the frustrations and successes we often push to the background.

Patient perspectives are here to stay, alongside the pathophysiology and the evidence, to remind us why we do what we do.

Learn More About Evidence-Based Medicine
Jennifer S. Tirnauer, M.D.
Senior Deputy Editor for Hematology and Genetics for UpToDate at Wolters Kluwer, Health
Jennifer S. Tirnauer, M.D., is a Senior Deputy Editor for Hematology and Genetics for UpToDate at Wolters Kluwer, Health. She is board-certified in hematology and previously ran a research lab in cell biology and molecular medicine.
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