Currently, the AODA does not have a healthcare standard. A committee is making recommendations about what a healthcare standard should include. One issue that a healthcare standard should address is access to information. Healthcare providers should be required to make all information available to all patients. One way for providers to do so could be by posting information on accessible websites. Patients or other visitors with disabilities can read online healthcare information on accessible computers or phones.
Online Healthcare Information
Different kinds of healthcare providers should post online healthcare information. For instance:
- Doctors’ offices
- Walk-in clinics
- Wellness centres
- Healthcare regulating colleges
What Information Should be Accessible Online?
Different providers could post different kinds of information. For example, hospitals could post guides or videos for patients if it is their first time:
- Staying in hospital
- Having surgery, x-rays, etc.
For instance, the Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) in Toronto offers information for first-time patients through videos and text in simple language. Some other hospitals offer only text information but they do not offer plain-language versions.
Similarly, pharmacies could upload guides or videos of how to take different kinds of medication. There could also be a multi-pharmacy database archiving instructions for medications. Patients with print disabilities could log on to learn how to use medications that doctors have prescribed for them. Moreover, the archive could also contain plain-language versions of prescription instructions. Simple language, and pictures or diagrams, could be helpful for patients with intellectual disabilities, patients learning English, or patients with low literacy.
Likewise, doctors’ offices, clinics, and labs could make copies of print forms available online for patients. Instead of handing every patient a print form, health practitioners could give all patients the option to fill the form out in print or submit it online. Many patients might prefer this option, because it would be environmentally friendly.
In addition, all healthcare providers can use their websites as a way to advertise any accessible features or services they have. Our next article will explore how healthcare providers should use online platforms to inform patients about their commitments to accessibility.