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Apple iBooks, the future of patient education and shared decision aids

This week, Apple released their latest disruptive innovation, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author. iBooks 2 is a free update to the iBooks app for iPads. iBooks Author is a free mac desktop application which enables anyone with some basic typing and drag-and-drop skills to create pretty amazing eBooks. eBooks can contain pictures, links, audio, video, rotating graphics, self study questions and more. This is the future of patient education, shared decision aids and pre and post visit care.

On the outset, the idea of combining text and video and pictures isn't really that new. It's been around since…well… the start of the web. But in the context of a book, there is something really strangely compelling about seeing a moving video in the middle of static text. I can't quite describe it. After about an hour of tinkering with the app and pasting some images and text in from a keynote presentation, I had a nice little proof of concept. You can download it and see for yourself here.

There is something which draws you in when you see live action video playing within a frame of text. Adult education experts call this blended learning. We absorb more when we engage more of our senses.

So imagine this, your doctor tells you that you are going to need surgery. What's that process going to be like? What do I do before hand to prep? What should I do when I get home, you ask?

"Well, you can just download my free eBook," he says.

The book walks you through the pros and cons of surgery. It plays a video of the doctor outlining the procedure. A moving picture gallery shows you where to arrive, and what to expect the day of surgery. Another video shows you how to use the pre-surgical antimicrobial wash the doctor sent you home with. There are links to online communities from other patients who have been through the same process. There is even an embedded twitter search showing a real time discussion about your condition. Wow!

A few days after the procedure, you fire up chapter two. It shows a diagram of some basic stretching. The next page talks about nutrition. To make sure you understand the concepts, there is a short self test, don't worry, it's open book.

These tools are simple to create. They are easy to publish (for free). And, they are a tremendous value-add to patients. Apple has done it again. By disintermediating author from the publisher, they've given us all the ability to make robust patient aids. For that matter, patients could make them for other patients, and publish them on their blogs, or via the iTunes book store.

What are you waiting for, go publish your first eBook!

You can download my demo/work-in-progress book, Innovation in Healthcare: A Requirement For Success here. I'll continue to update it after this post is live, however the point is not to provide a serious book about health reform and innovation tactics. Rather, the point is to demonstrate how the technology can be used in a healthcare setting (this book is more geared to the administrative types than patients).

The gallery below includes images and descriptions of features in eBooks.