Tablets can help boost patient understanding of surgical procedures

Use of tablet computers helped patients preparing for surgery to better understand their forthcoming procedure and the road ahead, according to a team of Australian researchers who presented their findings over the weekend at the European Association of Urology Congress in Munich.

For the study, the researchers gauged the understanding of 88 patients set to undergo a procedure for acute renal colic; 45 discussed the procedure, as normal, while 43 viewed a video presentation narrated by a doctor on a tablet. The patients then were asked about their understanding of the surgery, and then switched roles.

The video, according to the researchers, boosted patients' understanding by 15.5 percent; what's more, close to 81 percent of patients preferred the video over face-to-face consultations.

"We are not saying that using portable video media should replace consent," lead study author Matthew Winter, of Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, said in a statement. "Our work shows that there are alternatives to interviews, which can help significantly improve patient understanding and satisfaction." Announcement