Commentary on “Can face-to-face patient education be replaced by computer-based education?,” A review by Keulers et al.

Commentary on “Can face-to-face patient education be replaced by computer-based education?,”... Eur J Plast Surg (2003) 26:377 DOI 10.1007/s00238-003-0555-0 LE TT ER TO T H E E DITOR F. Barton Commentary on “Can face-to-face patient education be replaced by computer-based education?,” A review by Keulers et al. Published online: 12 November 2003 Springer-Verlag 2003 The title query of the article, ”Can face-to-face education I would suspect that even within the broad field of be replaced by computer-based education?” points to the plastic surgery, application would vary. In reconstructive emerging dilemma of the role of artificial intelligence in surgery, the defect is definite, even if severity varies. society as a whole, and in medicine, in particular. The Treatment options may be multiple, but they are definable review well documents the increasing retention of learn- and similar from surgeon to surgeon. Therefore, stan- ing as the number of senses stimulated increases, with dardized education of the problem could be valuable. multimedia interactive methods being the most effective. Cleft lip deformity is such an example. The author’s review of the literature seems to suggest Cosmetic surgery is perhaps the biggest hurdle for an affirmative answer to the query. However, as he points computer-based education. First, the indications are very out none of the studies were done on plastic surgery subjective. Second, surgical procedures are not well patients. I would suspect that the effectiveness of standardized among surgeons. Finally, determining pa- multimedia is greatly dependent upon the type of material tient motivation and expectation may be the most being communicated. important of all. I find this difficult determination to best The majority of medical and surgical information is be made by listening to the responses of the patient during quantifiable and has rather consistent deductive reason- a seemingly unrelated explanation of the potential proce- ing. The indications for gall bladder removal are pretty dures. much agreed upon, the methods of removal reasonably In summary, the author makes a convincing case for standardized, and the results measurable. Such informa- the value of multimedia education in selected situations. It tion lends itself to interactive education. The increasing probably has value in explaining the diagnosis in most utilization of internet resources such as WebMD is a good areas. Its value in explaining treatments, however, greatly example. However, as information becomes more sub- diminishes as the variability of procedures and of jective, standardization of multimedia is more difficult. expectations becomes more subjective. This commentary refers to the article which can be found at F. Barton ( ) Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute, 411 N. Washington Ave., Suite 600, LB 13, Dallas, TX 75246, USA e-mail: European Journal of Plastic Surgery Springer Journals

Commentary on “Can face-to-face patient education be replaced by computer-based education?,” A review by Keulers et al.

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