Videos at discharge emphasize showing rather than telling heart failure patients how to change behavior

When congestive heart failure patients leave hospitals, a healthcare media startup wants them to be given a parting gift at discharge: a DVD. The idea is to help patients better understand their care plan by showing them what they need to do to change their behavior and avoid becoming a rapid readmission statistic and to […]


When congestive heart failure patients leave hospitals, a healthcare media startup wants them to be given a parting gift at discharge: a DVD. The idea is to help patients better understand their care plan by showing them what they need to do to change their behavior and avoid becoming a rapid readmission statistic and to help hospitals reduce the rapid readmission rate for certain conditions, but particularly heart failure.

Wellflix has developed a series of videos to change behavior and improve adherence that emphasize visual rather than oral or written instructions to manage their health. Its approach is based on Dr Albert Bandura, who focused on social learning theory.

In a phone interview with Jon Winder, the CEO of Wellflix, based near Research Triangle Park, he said it is currently in advanced beta testing with two hospital systems — one in North Carolina and another in Massachusetts. It recently raised seed funding from angel investors to support the commercial roll out of the heart failure videos in the next three to six months.

It has developed four sets of videos on managing congestive heart failure geared to African-American men and women and caucasian men and women, with more planned for different language, ethnicity, and age. It is based on the theory that people are more likely to watch videos that most closely resemble someone like themselves. It also plans to add more disease states such as COPD, diabetes and wound care.

Peter Orton, a co-founder and director of Wellflix, who also consults for the Centers for Disease Control on health communication and delivery, authored a paper that helps explain the company’s approach. “Observing people similar to oneself successfully perform a skill typically raises the observers’ self-efficacy that they themselves also have the capabilities to master comparable activities. If someone ‘like them’ can do it, then they too can achieve the skill they have observed.”

The company offers the video through a DVD that can be viewed on a DVD player or a computer. The videos can also be viewed through an online portal. Ideally, a caregiver like a spouse or the adult child of a patient assists patients with watching the videos. At least one hospital has tried having patients view one part of the video before they’re discharged. It does raise a potential obstacle for how patients who are not technology savvy will manage to view the videos.

Winder said the problem with a lot of the information provided to patients at discharge is that it goes over patients heads at a time when they may be stressed for several reasons. Add to that factors that can complicate adherence like depression, frequently associated with chronic conditions, and living alone. He notes something as fundamental as weighing oneself every day and recording the number is critical for congestive heart failure patients. But for someone not in the habit of doing it, that can become a challenge. If patients had better visual tools, Winder said they could begin to have an effect on patients’ daily behavior.

Congestive heart failure is the number one cause of hospitalization for adults older than 65 so it’s a top priority, particularly for hospitals trying to get 30-day readmission rates under control. By validating its approach. Winder said the company hopes to gain wider adoption by health systems.