The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has launched a series of online videos and DVDs to help healthcare professionals ease their patients' fears about common heart tests and treatments including ECGs, echocardiograms and stent surgery.
The launch comes as the heart charity release new online research that shows half the nation (48%) has turned to the internet for information about tests or treatments they've been referred for by their doctor.
Of those who have searched on the internet for this medical information:
- Over half (52%) said they wanted to find out more about the side effects for their test or treatment
- Over two in five (42%) said they were concerned about what the test or treatment involved
- Over one in five (22%) said they didn't feel their doctor gave them enough information
- Nearly a quarter (23%) said they wanted to get information to reassure their family
The online survey of over 2,000 UK adults also reveals that around one in five patients (19%) feel uncomfortable asking their doctor all of their questions at an appointment. A similar number (20%) who have been for an appointment with their doctor say they feel unsure if their condition or concern is being correctly diagnosed.
The BHF's new film series called 'The Road Ahead: Your guide to tests and treatments' has been launched to help people prepare for common procedures on their heart.
The series tells the real life stories of patients undergoing tests and procedures including ECGs, angiograms and stent surgery. Healthcare professionals also explain each stage of the procedure and answer frequently asked questions.
Maureen Talbot, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the BHF, said: "Increasing numbers of patients are turning to search engines like Google for medical advice. While online information can be extremely useful, healthcare professionals need to make sure it's seen as complementary to personalised medical advice rather than a substitute for it.
"Our new tests & treatments films have been designed to play this role. By telling the real-life stories of heart patients, the films give clear accounts of what to expect in what may sound like daunting procedures. We know this is the kind of information that is difficult to find elsewhere and is often enough to ease people's anxieties."
Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the BHF said: "As a GP, I know patients often leave a consultation wanting more information, explanation and involvement in the care they receive. I encourage and signpost patients to use trusted websites that I know have clear and accurate information to help them better understand and manage their condition.
"However, it's vital that the internet isn't seen as a substitute for a good working relationship between the doctor and the patient. As healthcare professionals we should embrace the role that online resources can play in helping to ease patients anxieties and concerns and use them to compliment a visit to the GP surgery or hospital."
Ian Keown (57), who is featured in the films having an echocardiogram, said: "The word echocardiogram means very little to most people, so it's not surprising you can feel a little anxious when you are referred for one. But in reality it's very similar to how I imagine a pregnancy scan. I hope by telling my story through the BHF's new films I can help put people's minds at rest in the lead-up to their echocardiogram. Despite how it sounds, it really is nothing to worry about."
The BHF's 'The Road Ahead' films show people going through procedures including ECG, angiogram, stent surgery, ablation, bypass surgery and many more. To view the films, visit: www.bhf.org.uk/videos