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    Patient Information Forum

    Objectives

    By the end of this session, participants will have a greater awareness of:

    • their own knowledge and interactions with health information
    • the importance of health literacy and accessible information
    • good quality health information resources
    • resources and techniques to help assess the quality health information
    • supporting material and organisations

    What is the Patient Information Forum?

    • The Patient Information Forum (PIF) is the ‘go to’ UK membership organisation and network for people working in, and involved with, healthcare information and support. We are not-for-profit and independent.
    • We have a network of over 600+ members, representing every kind of information and support producer and provider, including the NHS, voluntary, commercial, academic and freelance sectors.
    • 89% of respondents in the 2017 PIF membership survey said they strongly agreed or agreed that they would recommend PIF membership to a friend.

    What does PIF do?

    • We provide support to individuals and organisations to help them provide the best health information for patients.
    • We deliver practical resources to increase expertise for all those who share our vision, including delivering events, online discussion groups and a weekly e-newsletter.
    • We influence to ensure improving the quality of health information is high up on the agenda across the whole NHS and health sector
    • We work on projects, with patients and clinicians, to map their perfect patient information journey
    • We provide a best practice toolkit and updates to support the creation of high quality health information.
    • We highlight research and reports on key health information topics.

    Producing Health Information for Children

    The information PIF sends out is wonderful and it lets me know that I am not alone and I get fantastic insights on what others are doing in the same areas of communication and engagement. Then it’s a case of not re-inventing the wheel. If anyone’s looking for help and information and education, this is a great organisation.

    Perfect Patient Information Journey

    Why do we do it? 

    • We believe high quality health information is the cornerstone of achieving the best experience for patients, and putting them in control of their well-being, treatment and care.
    • We know that getting health information right is good for the patient and good for the NHS. It improves patients’ outcomes and saves the NHS money.

    Our 2013 report, Making the case for information, outlined tangible benefits of investing in high quality patient information, including reduced GP demand.

    Is knowledge power?

    Patient views on the information they were given

    • 36% felt they were not given helpful information at first diagnosis
    • 32% find it difficult to access trustworthy information on their condition
    • 20% felt they did not have enough information to feel confident in discussing decisions about their treatment with their doctor

    I wasn't a typical case

    I wasnt given enough information to make a choice

    I ask a lot of questions

    Providers of online health information need to be aware of the searching behaviour of patients and their carers. Access, or lack of, to online health information and the literacy to be able to understand it, is causing a disparity in health outcomes.

    • Access to the Internet
      • UK has highest proportion of households with Internet access (82%)
    • Searching behaviour
      • More likely to search if they have chronic conditions
      • Disparity due to poverty and lack of Internet access
      • Knowledge of clinical terminology
    • Quality of online health information
      • Incorrect information leads to poor decisions
      • No requirement to adhere to quality standard
    • Shared decision-making
      • Involved patients are more likely to be compliant

    Accessible Information Standard

    • From 1st August 2016, all organisations that provide NHS care and / or publicly-funded adult social care are legally required to follow the Accessible Information Standard.
    • The Standard sets out a specific, consistent approach to identifying, recording, flagging, sharing and meeting the information and communication support needs of patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability, impairment or sensory loss.

    Quality tools

    The Information Standard Information Standard

    Kitemark launched in 2009 – Now owned by NHS England

    Six aspects of producing good quality information

    1. Information production process
    2. Evidence sources
    3. User understanding and involvement
    4. End product
    5. Feedback
    6. Review

    discern online  – Assessing quality

    • Checklist of 16 questions
    • Authorship – Who wrote the content and what are their credentials? Are they qualified to provide this information?
    • Attribution – is it clear how the information was generated, e.g. is it referenced?
    • Disclosure – is the web-site sponsored by anyone who might have a commercial gain? When did they write it? Who did they write it for?
    • Currency – is there a date to indicate age of the content?

    Consumer health information sources

    PIF resources

    PIF supports members with a range of events, a weekly e-newsletter which rounds up health information news, and resources including:

    • PIF website and Toolkit – which includes resources on communicating risk
    • Accessible Information Group – established to support people involved in implementing the new mandatory NHS England Accessible Information Standard (AIS)
    • Events – Shared Decision Making, Digital Health Information, Communicating Risk

    Presented at our conference Empowering Patients with Information Technology

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    In 2015, the government made a pledge to assist UK patients to access more online pharmacy services to help the NHS save money. It also made attempts to examine the payments of the sector to ensure the presence of efficiency, innovation and healthy competition. Today, the pharmacy is a major foundational pillar of modern medicine.

    In the UK especially, competition has grown with intensity, revenues are now capped, and many expect the pharmacies to begin managing chronic conditions. For a long time, independent pharmacies have been the backbone of the country’s community, but are at risk of being rendered obsolete as more major players surface and capture the market’s value.

    Intention to Purchase Online Increases

    The industry has continued to consolidate gradually with the rise of supermarkets and out-of-town shopping that present intense competition in the pharmacy landscape. The pharmacy models are also changing with community dispensing dominating in commodity generics. In the modern world, mail-order and internet services are strongly taking over the distribution of pharmaceuticals, and this has seen the growth of online pharmacies in the UK. With the rise of internet savvy consumers, brick and mortar pharmacies will no longer be the only option for consumers to receive their medication.

    Today, consumers want it all, from personal care products to prescription services, with their only worry being convenience, expertise and accessibility. This leaves the community pharmacy in a tricky position. As dispensing continues to be a commodity, online pharmacies have developed a sustainable revenue stream that focuses on monetising their role in healthcare.

    Online Pharmacies Save Time and Money

    In England especially, online pharmacies play a great role in helping patients save both time and money on their prescriptions. An experienced pharmacist provides quality healthcare and uses their clinical expertise and practical knowledge to advise consumers on common problems such as aches, coughs, colds and healthy eating. They can also advise patients to visit a health professional when need be. For patients with a long-term condition under new prescription, online pharmacists are always ready to explain and advice on how the medicine should be taken and the side effects associated with it.

    Patients tend to gather more confidence when dealing with online pharmacists, whom they have been noted to talk about very personal and sensitive symptoms and matters, unlike is the case with community services. Typically, it is safe to say that the rise of online pharmacies has changed the norm of medicine in the UK. With the rise of the online market, what should consumers know?

    Online Pharmacies Facts

    First, consumers need to steer clear of unregulated websites as these are common causes of fake medicine distribution that could potentially harm their health. In the UK, only selected few online pharmacies are regulated to offer online prescriptions. The regulation is designed to assure patients that the pharmacy meets certain standards in terms of who can legally dispense medication. The General Pharmaceutical Council has the responsibility of regulating online pharmacies to ensure that only generic medication is being delivered to consumers.

    Normally, UK online pharmacies offer their medication at relatively low prices and in greater quantities. Patients also benefit from the anonymity, giving them the chance to describe embarrassing health conditions.

    The other positive side of online pharmacies is that they have the capacity to provide rationed medicines that are not often provided in National Health Services such as facial hair reduction creams. Patients also prefer online services as they can obtain non-prescribed medicines. With the high rise of online pharmaceutical services, it is necessary to find out if the provider is regulated to avoid falling into the hands of a quack.

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    With nearly all industries moving toward a more digital presence, it is no surprise that healthcare has taken a similar turn. Patients are demanding greater access to care in the UK, and online service providers are making an effort to meet this growing need. Just like brick-and-mortar health facilities, like dentists, hospitals, care homes, and specialists have an obligation to abide by standards set by the Care Quality Commission – the regulator of all health and social care services in England – online healthcare services must do the same. Unfortunately, a recent report published by the CQC highlights the perils some patients face when trusting the digital trend sweeping healthcare providers.

    Dangers in Unsuitable Prescriptions

    Errors in prescription medications take place in traditional pharmacy settings and doctor’s office around the world, but the anonymity of online pharmacies creates a higher probability of errors taking place. The most recent CQC report focused on digital healthcare service providers highlights some of the most glaring examples of substandard care in prescribing medications to patients. First, a widely known online pharmacy was found prescribing a large number of opioid-based medications without having a foundational system in place to confirm patients’ medical history or prescription track record. The CQC issued a restriction on the company, forcing it to limit its prescriptions until a sustainable system was established.

    Another online pharmacy was cited for prescribing a high number of asthma inhalers, not in line with best practices of traditional providers. The company failed to implement a review system for new prescriptions, putting patients’ lives at risk. In this case, the CQC issued a warning to the online pharmacy to update its practices immediately. Other online providers were cited for not adequately reviewing patient medical histories prior to approving a requested prescription, and accurately identifying GP assessments before prescribing medicine to certain patients. Although the published reports from the CQC are helpful in bringing to light the risk patients face in using online healthcare services, there is only so much the organization can do to stave off potentially fatal issues that arise due to nonexistent safeguards among companies operating online.

    How Patients can Help

    The risks of using pharmacies and other healthcare services through a digital platform are growing as more individuals seek out immediate care for health-related issues. A representative from a team of medical negligence solicitors dealing with cases of prescription claims and those where harm is caused due to medication mistakes explains the most significant issue online providers present to the public. In essence, the same standard of care should extend beyond traditional settings in which doctors, nurses, specialists, and pharmacists are providing care face-to-face to those who offer medical guidance online. Patients deserve the highest quality care available, and online companies along with the people who work for them have an obligation to protect those who seek their services. That can be done by abiding by the best practices laid out by the CQC, including understanding the medical history of the patient, other medications the patient may be taking, and the recommendations of the patient’s GP.

    Patients using online healthcare providers have a responsibility to do their due diligence when working with a primary care, pharmacy, or specialist company. The best step to take is to ensure that the organization is registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA by searching the company name, number, or website online. Additionally, any website that sells medicine to the public is required to show the EU common logo for potential patients to see. As the Care Quality Commission continues its objective to maintain a safe and high-quality healthcare environment for patients in England, individuals can do their part by being knowledgeable of the risks they face when conducting medical business online.

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    With the increasing rise in medical costs, more and more people are looking to the Internet for a cheaper solution. This is not to even mention the crisis that the health care system is in. If you are a working individual going to the doctor just isn’t worth it unless it a dire situation. With that being, the Internet can provide tons of low costing solutions, but there are things that you need to be aware of before just blindly purchasing medications online. Below, you will learn about the different risks that are involved with shopping for medications online.

    Prices Can Change

    The first thing that you need to be aware of is that sometimes the prices of online medication can change. Some pharmacy sites will post lowball prices just to pull you in, and when you are least expecting it they will raise the price. This is something that Canada Drugs pharmacies will definitely never do. All the prices listed on this site are up-to-date and accurate as possible.

    Additional Fees

    Along with the changing of the prices a lot of online pharmacies will charge you additional fees. For instance, there is probably going to be a shipping fee, which won’t be that substantial. However, there might also be a membership fee, which can cost a little more. This is a fee that sites charge just for setting up an account, so that you can order with them. Most sites are upfront about these types of fees, whereas there are some that are not, so this is something that you need to keep an eye on when shopping online.

    Counterfeit Substances

    Do you ever wonder why some online pharmacies are able offer such a lower price than legitimate pharmacies? A lot of times this is because they are selling you counterfeit medications. While the medication looks exactly the same it may not produce the same results. Both name brand and generic medications can be faked, which means that the medication may not contain all the ingredients that it normally would. It could also contain additional ingredients that could be harmful or even fatal to your health.

    Don’t Safeguard Your Health

    Online pharmacies do not know you medical history and there are a lot of them out there that don’t safeguard your health. If an online pharmacy is offering medications that require a prescription you probably want to stay away from this pharmacy. This is probably a good sign that they are selling counterfeit medications. Even if the medication isn’t counterfeit you should never buy prescription medication unless a licensed physician has prescribed it to you, because it could be harmful to you. Just because your neighbor took a certain type of antibiotic to clear up his illness it doesn’t necessarily means that the same medication will work wonders for you.

    Protection Of Personal Information

    Anytime you shop for anything online there is a chance that someone can get ahold of your credit card information. Websites are also not allowed to share your contact and billing information with other individuals or companies. This is why they post privacy policies guaranteeing that they won’t share your information. Most online transactions are usually secured through the use of some kind of encryption software, which prevents people from getting ahold of your personal and billing information. However, if a pharmacy is selling you fake or counterfeit medications then there is a good chance that they aren’t going to employ these kinds of tactics.

    Be on the look out for any online pharmacy that does not offer privacy policies. This could be a good sign that they don’t care about protecting your information.  If you find your credit rating is not good you can get it repaired.

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    Health is wealth. To maintain a healthy body, you need to consume a balanced diet, exercise on a regular basis along with taking sufficient amount of sleep. To avoid unwanted maladies, people consult medical experts. With globalisation at its peak, it is easy to access almost everything. Everything is turned online. With the inclusion of medication in the globalisation spectrum, you can know about your health from home without visiting physicians. Many patients today are seeking advice from online doctors. Online medical consultations are a norm today. Below are few pros and cons of online health consultancy:

    Pros:

    • Online health adviser is not limited by actual boundaries. You can access to reputed doctors throughout the world that would otherwise not be available to you. For some reason, if you are not able to leave your home and access to the traditional treatment centres, services like these would provide you with an advantage.
    • Self-diagnosis is a dangerous option. You can look for the cures on Google relevant to your symptoms, but it can never substitute for consulting a doctor. Websites are providing online consultations and online pharmacies like Click Pharmacy.
    • It is cost effective. Visiting a doctor in person could cost you more than seeking for online medical advice.
    • Most online health service providers operate 24 hours.

    Cons:

    • To reach a better decision, doctors take help of diagnostic reports. Online consultation acts like a barrier to fetch reports.
    • It opens a new door for selling prescription drugs. Scam operations are present that target on selling cheap medications.
    • There is no transparency in the sense that you cannot be sure about the qualification of the doctor.

    However online medical consultancy is at its boom these days. People still use them because it does provide them sufficient level of comfort in all aspects. But how does it work? There are numerous websites available where you can seek medical advice. Doctors get paid for the answer they provide to the patients, so this can to some extent support the validity of their answers. Some websites allow you to contact doctors from best hospitals. Their blogs provide reliable solutions to everyday common health conditions such as stress issues. JustDoc, one of the websites, allows you to contact doctors through audio and video calls. You can even attach your medical reports if you have one assist the doctor working on you. Sometimes you may get an instant answer depending on the nature and severity of the disease. Lab tests can be performed and shipped directly to your doorstep, which further is convenient. Doctors can sign up on any of their desired website which will provide them with a platform to practice medicine online. They just have to create a profile entering required details such as qualifications and specialities. These websites enable the doctors to connect to their potential clients online and making them earn handsome amount of money.

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