Accessibility and its role in informed consent

Mar 12, 2022 | Opinion

Undergoing any clinical procedure is daunting, which is why the medical profession strives to ensure patients fully understand exactly what will happen. Treatments such as fertility should not be undertaken without fully understanding what lies ahead.

It’s a treatment that involves significant legal paperwork as well as consultations with fertility clinicians. The medical and legal forms should be read thoroughly and understood before moving forward. This is known as informed consent – ensuring that all information has been digested and understood before signing.

We are at the cutting edge of electronic informed consent in healthcare, and for us, it is essential that all patients are able to process the legal and medical paperwork and forms that must be completed.

Accessibility is vital in informed consent, which is an ethical and legal obligation based on the premise of autonomy for clinics and hospitals prior to treating patients. Unless consent is informed it cannot be considered valid, which means that it should be given voluntarily, by the patient or their representative, having been made fully aware of the procedure, potential issues or different treatment options.

Our aim is to make the process of informed consent straightforward and inclusive for all patients.

Accessibility should not be a barrier to treatment.

The benefit of our electronic informed consent platform is that forms can be accessed on a range of smart devices including smartphones, computers and tablets. Fertility Consent includes an accessibility plugin which means patients can access the required forms and resources in a variety of formats including larger text, voice dictation and screen brightness.

Previously, if a patient required information in another language an interpreter would be required to attend consultations. In the current climate when in-person consultations are not able to take place, the added complexity of treatment information being relayed via video interpreter has the potential to cause misunderstanding.

The informational videos provided by Fertility Consent are available with subtitles in multiple languages to ensure that every patient can digest the information about their treatment in their own time and in their preferred language so that they can provide informed consent.

As all videos and forms are available online and accessible from the comfort of the patient’s home, this provides adequate time to digest information ahead of a consultation, thereby enabling the person to raise any questions or concerns about future treatment with clinic staff.

This is a benefit not only for patients but also for clinics. All clinics strive to provide the best service to their patients and electronic informed consent ensures patients fully understand their treatment, as well as freeing up the time it would have taken to sign documents at a consultation to provide further support and guidance.

Fertility Consent’s online platform provides administrative and efficiency benefits with a library of materials explaining treatments in a clear and engaging way, with forms tailored to a patient’s specific treatment.

Having this information easily accessible online in a secure platform means that patients have less queries or concerns when they return to the clinic for appointments, making the process more efficient and more productive for both them and their healthcare provider.

On the road to achieving compliant, convenient informed consent, taking a digital-first approach serves both patients and clinics well, now and in the future. Technology is being used in many innovative ways in healthcare. Informed consent might only be one element of treatment, but it is a vital one and it too is being transformed by technology to provide a more accessible, approachable patient experience.