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A Taste of Success: The Power of Video to Motivate Patients

June 21, 2019

“The first step is to believe that it’s possible. Once you have a taste of success, you start to believe in it a little more.” 
-Jarome Inigla, retired Canadian professional hockey player and Olympic gold medalist

I consider myself a woman of many talents. Cooking has never been one of them. 

When my niece Sofia came to visit this summer, she showed me her album of homemade cake pictures. “Pound cake, strawberry with a chocolate ganache,  lemon cheesecake…” I salivated like Pavlov’s dog as the pictures flashed before my eyes. Each cake was a work of art, almost too beautiful to eat. 

“I really admire your talent,” I told her. “I could never do this.”

“Of course you could,” she encouraged me. “I learned how to make these from videos on the internet. They make it easy.”

Easy? This I had to see.

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After Sofia pointed me to a few social media sites, it didn’t take long for me to find a video tutorial for my all-time favorite: red velvet cake. I clicked the play button and watched as the baker’s hands came into view, combining the ingredients into a mixing bowl. She stirred to the beat of cheery music and poured the batter into cake pans. Into the oven the pans went, and the video flashed forward to the finished product. The baker assembled the layers with cream cheese frosting, adding a decorative swirl to the top of the cake. Violá – a masterpiece!

Sofia was right. The video made the process seem easy enough, so I decided to give it a try. After a trip to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients, I set the oven to 350 degrees, lined up my cooking utensils, and followed the video’s step-by-step guidance. An hour later, I had a red velvet cake cooling on my counter. It looked decadent. It smelled divine.

So what if I had baked a cake? If it didn’t taste as good as it looked, this whole endeavor had been in vain. There was only one way to find out. I frosted the cake, cut a slice, and steeled my nerves. Then I took a bite.

It was so delicious I nearly wept. 

As I stood in my kitchen eating the slice of red velvet cake that I had just baked from scratch, it dawned on me that the video had transformed my thinking. Having a visual of the whole process seemed to be key. Being able to see with my own eyes how the ingredients morphed together into a cake cleared up a lot of my bewilderment over cake-making. I also noticed that the motion and the music kept my brain excited and engaged as I followed along. Most importantly, the video allowed me to witness someone else making a red velvet cake from scratch. Once I saw that person complete the task with success, I realized that I could do it too. 

Video is a powerful way to educate, enhancing retention up to 50%[1] over printed visuals or audio media alone. The impact of video, however, often exceeds the simple relay of information. In my case, a video changed my belief in my own abilities. It increased my self-confidence and made me feel capable and hopeful. It allowed me see what was possible.

In my work with hospitals that use interactive technology and video to educate patients, I hear similar stories from clinicians. Recently, a respiratory therapist shared with me how helpful videos had been for her pediatric patients. “Nebulizers and inhalers can be scary to a small child the first time they are introduced; they release mist and make strange noises,” she explained. “A child can watch an adult use a sample inhaler or put on an inhalation mask - and still feel fearful. But, when they see another child in a video using those same devices, it has a totally different effect. It takes a lot of the fear away and puts them at ease.”

A nurse I met in another hospital gushed over her favorite patient education video, which featured a testimonial of a man who had learned how to manage his diabetes. “He starts his story with his diagnosis,” she said. “He says he felt worried, scared, and overwhelmed, which is what a lot of people feel when they are first diagnosed. Next, he talks about how he set goals and made lifestyle changes. Then he explains that by keeping up with his new routines, he started feeling better. The last thing that patients see when they watch that video is that man, smiling. Sometimes the patients who watch it are smiling by the end as well. They watch his story unfold and they realize they can do it too.”

Those stories resonated with me, the newly competent from-scratch baker of a genuinely edible red velvet cake. I fully understood how powerful a video could be at easing fears and worries, instilling self-confidence, and inspiring behavior change. We’ve known for a long time that video is one of the most impactful ways to educate patients. I don’t think we’ve been nearly as aware or appreciative of the bonus value of video to motivate patients to change behavior.

Now that you and I know, I hope you’ll spread the word with me. If you’re in a patient care role, I encourage you to look for opportunities to incorporate videos as you teach your patients all they need to know to be successful. Education with a side of motivation is a win-win.

It’s kind of like having your homemade cake, and eating it too.

About the Author

Amy Mora joined the TeleHealth Services family in 2014 as a Client Outcomes Manager. Her 24+ years of healthcare experience includes working as the patient education coordinator for a large healthcare system in North Carolina. Amy has also authored an educational fiction series of stories about interpersonal issues impacting the healthcare workforce.

She has an extensive academic background in health behavior, health education, and health administration, and is a LEAN Six Sigma Green Belt and a former EMT-Intermediate. Amy is excited about supporting her hospital clients in their efforts to create better patient experiences and health outcomes. 

 

 

[1] Murphy, D. (2013, March 14). Hear, see, do: How videos improve patient education. Retrieved from http://surroundhealth.net/Topics/Education-and-Learning-approaches/Health-Communication/Articles/See,-hear,-do-How-videos-improve-patient-education.aspx