Last week I wrote about the impact of  evidence-based communication techniques and then the next day was invited to comment on the results of a new study.  It turns out Reaching Women Through Health Information Technology: The Gabby Preconception Care System is a great example of social evidence-based communication and I've been waiting for just this kind of new example.

New, because, I was already familiar with Louise, the virtual discharge advocate, who facilitates educational processes and gets great marks for patient satisfaction and addressing low health literacy levels.  Patients who have been using Louise represent an older and minority population. But, Gabby is targeted at a younger population and she is a risk assessment tool for conception.

patient engagementGabby the Virtual Preconception Care Advocate

 There is a disproportionate share of young women of demographic minority status and socioeconomic disadvantage with high rates of poor reproductive health and family planning outcomes in the US.  Gabby, an avatar, is an online preconception risk assessment tool that engages young women at a sixth-grade reading level. 

This type of social media tool doesn't replace physicians, nurses and other clinicians.  Instead it facilitates:

  • women having the opportunity to hear the information multiple times in order to aid with comprehension
  • culturally relevant, familiar and viable delivery of a health risk assessment and interventions
  • the time of interaction and pace driven by participant
  • evidence-based, closed-loop communications
  • women preparing for appointments with their provider
  • reinforcement of  information discussed during a clinical encounter
  • women preparing themselves for a pregnancy and knowing what actions they need to take to improve their health and reduce risks to their child

I know we will see more applications of avatars and virtual patient advocates and welcome anyone that has had an experience with one to leave a comment.

The title of the article that I contributed to is "Can Avatars Improve Patient Outcomes?"  I say, of course they can... if there is a clear strategy and they are well planned out and implemented.