Doctors Use Video to Help Treat Patients

September 27, 2013 Updated Apr 22, 2010 at 7:20 AM EDT

September 27, 2013 Updated Apr 22, 2010 at 7:20 AM EDT

"Ouch, my aching back" is a term uttered by many Americans. "Watch this DVD" may soon be the response from many area doctors.

The Catholic Independent Practice Association (CIPA) is out with a new educational DVD, produced locally by Full Circle Studios, for patients to understand low back pain and take an active role in their own recovery. "The DVD has exercises so they actually can be involved in their treatment and get relief," said Dennis Horrigan, president and CEO of CIPA. "It also helps physicians because simply they can provide the DVD to a patient, the patient can take it home, look at it and begin to be actively engaged in their own care and treatment." Horrigan says research has proven that patients who understand and are involved in treating their condition will have a more favorable outcome.

CIPA says as much as 80 percent of the population will experience low back pain at some point and many back pain sufferers think they need a full study of their backs and rush for expensive treatment. "Studies have shown that many patients who have low back pain immediately receive medication, expensive imaging, MRIs," Horrigan said. "The research shows the vast majority of people improve within two weeks. This is just crystal clear. Providing the patients with the right information, they'll do the right thing."

The DVD was produced in collaboration with Partners in Rehab, which provides outpatient rehabilitation as part of the Catholic Health System. Producers say it is a concise version of the best thinking of orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, and physical therapists.

This is not the first time CIPA is using video technology to connect with patients. A web-based program called Expectations Management Medical Information (EMMI) has a series of online educational sessions for patients on everything from childbirth and diabetes to colonoscopy and asthma. "We believe patient education is the key to having a high performing health system"

That follows longtime goals of CIPA, which was formed to coordinate care and improve delivery of healthcare to patients, by improving access, improving quality and reducing the expense trend. The organization was formed in the 1990s and now has 845 physicians as members. "Part of the challenge in healthcare is to manage the expenses because healthcare is trending at eight percent to 12 percent a year and it's clearly not sustainable," he said. "The Catholic IPA brings together best practices in healthcare, technology and a commitment to coordinated care."

While video technology can't replace doctor patient interaction, it can enhance it. At a busy physician's office, there may be time for an exam, but not enough time to teach the patient low back exercises. That's where video technology is especially handy, especially for independent physicians who can't produce such tools on their own. The technology that CIPA provides to its members is based on their needs. Horrigan says the next CIPA project will tackle childhood nutrition and the obesity crisis.

Speaking of valuable feedback, Horrigan says he has already received some from one of CIPA's own staff members who had low back pain and asked to try the new DVD. "Within five days, he came back and talked about having relief so it was proof positive that the program worked."