Health Literacy Depends on Reliable Information
Finding reliable healthcare information on the Internet can be a real challenge. Much of the information I read online is oversimplified. On occasion, this information can be misleading or completely inaccurate.
Creating quality patient education materials takes a lot of time, and can be costly. This is likely why WebMD and many other websites embed advertising into their patient education materials.
Creating Credible Resources for Patient Education
Studies have shown that, following an office visit, patients have difficulty understanding or recalling information discussed with their physician. For these reasons, I became interested in creating quality, advertising free, educational materials for my patients to help supplement the discussions taking place in my office. My goal was to create videos and blog posts on common urological conditions, and then embed within them links to additional Internet-based resources.
Preserving the Integrity of Links on the Web
Creating the video and blog posts for these resources turned out to be relatively straightforward. Surprisingly, what turned out to be most difficult was managing the external links. Frankly, I was shocked to find out that an article I had read one day, and wanted to embed into my materials, could turn out to contain completely different content on the following day. I became increasing worried that this could result in unintended confusion for patients reading my materials with links to external resources.
How could I make sure the digital information the patient linked to, was the same information I viewed, and shared with the patient, originally?
When Website Content Changes
Mistakes can happen inadvertently, updates to pages can be made, and even entire web pages can be removed leading to dead links (404 page errors). Many times when websites are redesigned, precious content is lost due to dead links.
Here is a recent example of a small change in an article that might easily be missed – the difference between “ileostomy” (May 25th article) vs. “urostomy” (May 28th update): Dr. Salisz Article – see #1 vs. #2 (par. 13) .
I discovered, with respect to links, the strength of the internet – its fluidity – could also be its greatest weakness. I needed to find a way to get some control over the Internet.
Discovering a Disruptive Technology for Bookmarking and Linking
I started looking for ways to ensure the links I was embedding in my patient educational materials weren’t changing without my knowledge. What I found was an innovative tool, currently in Beta version, called Permamarks.
Permamarks is an application that allows the user to archive an article on the Internet with a permanent link and timestamp.
Once an article is Permamarked, it can’t be changed.
The application allows users to create a shortened, customized URL for their Permamark link. In addition, the tool allows users to organize individual Permamarks into lists. These lists can be can be quite useful as permanent resources in blog posts.
For my purposes – creating custom patient education materials – Permamarks turned out to be the final piece of the puzzle. Now I have the tools to create a video (You Tube or Clear.MD) about a specific topic in urology, add in text (WordPress), and then embed Permamarked links containing information that I have personally curated.
The Future of the Internet
I suspect that applications for Permamarks will extend far beyond medicine. I can envision uses for this tool in government, law, education, or for anyone researching how a specific topic on the Internet evolves over time.
I recently read that 22-year old Permamarks developer Matisse VerDuyn @MatisseVerDuyn submitted an application with business accelerator Healthbox @Health_Box in Jacksonville to grow this tool. I believe the ability to archive digital content is an important part of the future of the Internet, and sharing knowledge. It will be interesting to see, over time, if others find Permamarks to be their go to tool for archiving and linking as well.