Objectives First, to evaluate the effect of standard vs pictograph-enhanced discharge instructions on patients’ immediate and delayed recall of and satisfaction with their discharge instructions. Second, to evaluate the effect of automated pictograph enhancement on patient satisfaction with their discharge instructions.
Materials and Methods Glyph, an automated healthcare informatics system, was used to automatically enhance patient discharge instructions with pictographs. Glyph was developed at the University of Utah by our research team. Patients in a cardiovascular medical unit were randomized to receive pictograph-enhanced or standard discharge instructions. Measures of immediate and delayed recall and satisfaction with discharge instructions were compared between two randomized groups: pictograph (n = 71) and standard (n = 73).
Results Study participants who received pictograph-enhanced discharge instructions recalled 35% more of their instructions at discharge than those who received standard discharge instructions. The ratio of instructions at discharge was: standard = 0.04 ± 0.03 and pictograph-enhanced = 0.06 ± 0.03. The ratio of instructions at 1 week post discharge was: standard = 0.04 ± 0.02 and pictograph-enhanced 0.04 ± 0.02. Additionally, study participants who received pictograph-enhanced discharge instructions were more satisfied with the understandability of their instructions at 1 week post-discharge than those who received standard discharge instructions.
Discussion Pictograph-enhanced discharge instructions have the potential to increase patient understanding of and satisfaction with discharge instructions.
Conclusion It is feasible to automatically illustrate discharge instructions and provide them to patients in a timely manner without interfering with clinical work. Illustrations in discharge instructions were found to improve patients’ short-term recall of discharge instructions and delayed satisfaction (1-week post hospitalization) with the instructions. Therefore, it is likely that patients’ understanding of and interaction with their discharge instructions is improved by the addition of illustrations.