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Gone are the days of the brochure wall that every office used to have. Everything is online or on your phone and video is your patient’s preferred way to consume information. As people consume more of their information by video, they may be less likely to read lengthy instruction sheets. Dermatology is one of the most visual fields of medicine and video and pictures are the perfect fit for patient education, but few are taking full advantage of its potential.

I will share a concept I call the “QR Card” that has proven very effective educating patients about a novel compounded medication for the treatment of warts, male genital warts, molluscum contagiosum, and seborrheic keratosis. This case study will illustrate how this card works and how similar cards may be useful for educating patients about more complex procedures and treatments.

QR code use has been accelerated by the COVID pandemic, and if your patient didn’t know about them before, they do now. They are an easy and convenient way to get patients to a webpage straight from their phone. Patient education challenges typically come from more complex diseases and treatments, like cosmetic or surgical procedures, or even multifaceted diseases like acne. What is the procedure? How does it work? How much does it cost? What do you look like afterward? What is the aftercare?

The patient needs a comprehensive understanding of their treatment or treatment options. This can consume tremendous amounts of time from everyone in your office, from the providers to call backs to the front desk. A QR card can make patient education much more efficient, improving outcomes, increasing sales, and elevating patient education quality and accessibility. Not to mention saving everyone their most precious commodity—time.

What is a QR card? How does it work?

To the left is an example of the QR card that we supply to prescribers of wartPEEL. Wartpeel has several uses as represented by the QR codes. Before this card, offices had to file away or print on demand instruction sheets for all three conditions. Inevitably the sheets would be photocopied multiple times, which produced a faded unprofessional looking instructions sheet. Patients could lose the sheets, call the office with questions, or perhaps not read the instruction sheet at all. The QR card has vastly improved the patient’s understanding of treatment, saved our prescribers time, and improved outcomes.

The back of the card has a QR code taking patients to a website where people can find the pharmacy contact information for their state. The QR codes take the patient to an instruction sheet on the website that is shorter than the original one, on the assumption that patients want to read less and learn by video more often. On the bottom of the instruction sheet are links to three to five videos pertinent to the condition being treated.

Consider how a similar card may look for a popular cosmetic procedure that needs extensive patient education: microneedling with PRP.

I suggest limiting your QR codes to four. For this procedure I would recommend three codes that link to a short amount of text and multiple videos that explain certain aspects of the procedure. The fourth code could be the usual patient instructions with links to appropriate videos. Video production is an entirely different topic, but anyone with a smartphone and a tripod can get started. You can always enlist the help of a professional, if needed.

Here are a few scenarios where the QR card comes valuable. They can be displayed in the waiting area. Many practices have cosmetic interest questionnaires. When the patient is taken back, the medical assistant can give the patient the appropriate QR card based on their questionnaire. This allows the patient to become educated (and impressed) while waiting for the provider.

They can be displayed in the treatment room as well. The only potential danger of QR cards is the temptation to use them in place of, rather than in addition to, face-to-face patient education. For example, if the patient is close to deciding to have a procedure, handing them the QR card and telling them to call to schedule would be inappropriate. Patients still want an in-person explanation. You can certainly have the patient scan the card with you and use it as a guide for discussion. This gives patients the one-on-one explanation that they desire while demonstrating that the card is a valuable resource for further education. If the patient is at the beginning stages of the decision-making process, it is perfectly appropriate to just hand them the QR card with a short explanation as you would a brochure.

Multiple Benefits

Just like the brochure wall has disappeared in most offices, long patient instructions sheets need to be reconsidered. Your website is where all patient education material should reside. The QR code is an excellent, patient-friendly, and visually appealing way to elevate your practice’s patient education and allow you to stand out from the competition. QR cards have the bonus of directing patients to your website, leveraging the money you have no doubt spent in its development.

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