‘Symptoms and Diagnosis’ Project Releases Whiteboard Videos for Patients

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A board certified internal medicine physician in Nebraska releases videos in which he talks directly to his patients about common medical problems. He uses a whiteboard to explain complex medical concepts in a simple language to make it useful to people without any medical background.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Nebrasks doctor: Author of Symptoms and Diagnosis

Nabin Sapkota, MD has been working on the book project “Symptoms and Diagnosis” for the last three months. His website has been attracting readers looking for answers about common health problems. As the website crosses the landmark of ten thousand views, the doctor has decided to create a series of whiteboard videos to explain complex problems in a simple way. His target audience are patients and general public looking for in-depth information about diseases and symptoms.

The Nebraska doctor says,“There is not much in-depth authentic medical information available on the Internet for general public. Most popular health websites have over-simplified and over-generalized information that is not very useful for people looking for more information about their diseases or symptoms. Most websites and articles with detailed medical information explaining complex situations only target fellow health care providers. They somehow assume that patients with no medical background are simply unable to understand complex medical concepts. I believe that this kind of thinking is flawed and fails to acknowledge the patient empowerment movement that has been gaining grounds in the last few years.”

Dr. Sapkota further explains, “Let’s look at an example. When you search the internet for “Symptoms of pneumonia”, you will get very reputable and patient oriented health sites listing the common symptoms of pneumonia. They all tell you what pneumonia is and give you examples of different types of pneumonia and list the common symptoms of each type of pneumonia. What they fail to do is tell you how pneumonia symptoms differ in individual patients depending on the unique situations of that patient. They also do not tell you how pneumonia symptoms develop and what actually happens inside your body when you have pneumonia. It is possible to explain the actual mechanisms of diseases to patients with no medical background. You just need to avoid technical terms and use the right instructional material. I believe using a whiteboard with simple drawings and tables is the right way to do it.”

The doctor hopes to raise patient awareness with these videos and narrow the knowledge gap between patients and health care providers. He adds, “Traditionally patient instruction materials have focused on typical symptoms and textbook description of diseases with willful avoidance of controversial topics and complex real life scenarios. This has created a very unrealistic and simplistic view of medicine in the eyes of the general public. This problem has been amplified recently with emergence of websites that claim to make diagnosis based on symptoms you type into the computer. This approach completely ignores the fact that medical symptoms are subjective and depend on the unique circumstances of the patient. I believe patients deserve to learn more about how symptoms of diseases develop in an individual patient. I do not believe that using a computer algorithm to match their symptoms with possible diagnosis is patient empowerment. I believe real patient empowerment comes when they know as much or more about their disease as their health care provider.”

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Nabin Sapkota, MD
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