Vertos Medical Blog

Creating Your mild® Talk Track: 3 Simple Steps APPs Can Take Today to Enhance Patient Education (with Video Demonstration and Helpful Resources)

Author— Ashley Comer, A.P.R.N., NP-C Published May 9, 2022

Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) play a vital role in helping patients understand their lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) diagnosis and treatment recommendations. By developing strong provider-patient communication, you’re taking the first step towards achieving positive outcomes and enhancing the patient experience.

Why is patient education so important?

  • Limited health literacy is linked to a spectrum of suboptimal health outcomes, including increased reports of poor physical functioning, pain, limitations in activities of daily living, and poor mental health status (Source)
  • Only about 12 percent of U.S. adults demonstrate proficient health literacy skills (Source)
  • Limited health literacy disproportionately affects adults aged 65 and older (Source)

Based on the data above, it is clear that patients over 65 years of age–the group most likely to suffer from LSS–may need more support to understand their condition and treatment plan. With the recognition that both lumbar spinal stenosis and poor health literacy can increase your patients’ susceptibility to poor physical functioning, pain, and limitations in activities of daily living, APPs should feel especially empowered to engage patients. This includes helpful education and dialogue that supports their understanding and helps them feel more comfortable taking the next step on their path to lasting relief.

In the following article, you will find step-by-step guidance and pragmatic suggestions that you can start using today, to help you ensure that your patients leave their consultation feeling confident and excited about their opportunity to make the move to mild®.

Watch: See APP Ashley Comer’s complete talk track for presenting mild® to her LSS patients.

Teach Patients About mild® in 3 Easy Steps

Use the mild® patient brochure as a tool and follow these simple steps to help your patients better understand their lumbar spinal stenosis diagnosis and the benefits of the mild® Procedure.

STEP 1: Explain LSS in Plain Language

LSS is a complex condition that can be challenging for patients to understand. It is important that patients comprehend the cause of their LSS symptoms, so they feel informed and confident in moving forward with a treatment plan.

Skip the Medical Jargon

Instead of using complex medical terms or acronyms, simplify your explanation with common words, phrases, and analogies to help patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options.

According to the CDC, nearly 9 out of 10 adults struggle to understand and use personal health information when it’s filled with unfamiliar or complex terms. (Source)

On the first page of the mild® patient brochure, you’ll find helpful illustrations that demonstrate the anatomical changes associated with LSS and the symptoms patients typically experience. During your patient consultation, be sure to highlight:

  • Compression of the nerves in the lower back.
    • LSS can develop as a result of aging and natural wear and tear on the spine
    • Thickened ligament is a major root cause of lumbar spinal stenosis
    • Symptoms are caused by pressure on spinal nerves
  • LSS symptoms affect daily life, causing pain and limited mobility. ASK YOUR PATIENT:
    • Do you feel pain, numbness, tingling, or heaviness when standing or walking?
    • Are your symptoms relieved by sitting, bending forward, or sleeping in the fetal position?

Relate LSS to Common, Lived Experiences

Many APPs and physicians use common, real-life analogies to help patients identify and understand their LSS symptoms. A common analogy that many patients may relate to is the “shopping cart syndrome.” Explaining that patients with lumbar spinal stenosis often feel relief when bending over a shopping cart (because it reduces pressure on the compressed nerves) can help patients recognize how this condition impacts their daily life.

STEP 2: Make the Discussion Specific to Your Patient

Once you’ve established the common signs and symptoms of LSS, demonstrate what the MRI shows for that specific patient. Turn to the last page of the mild® patient brochure, where you can use the diagrams provided. Drawing directly on the patient brochure, indicate the following:

  • In the sagittal view on the left, note which level(s) are affected
  • In the axial view on the right, show how their thickened ligament appears in the MRI, being sure to draw over the nerves to demonstrate the impact on the central canal

Watch: See how APP Ashley Comer uses the illustrations in the mild® patient brochure to demonstrate her patients’ specific areas of stenosis.

You can also accompany the spinal illustrations in the mild® patient brochure with an added tool, such as a spine model or the patient’s MRI to reinforce the anatomical positioning of the problem or validate the diagnosis, respectively.

STEP 3: Highlight how the mild® Procedure Works

Once patients fully understand their condition, walk them through all of the reasons why you recommend they make the move to mild®. If you turn back to the beginning of the brochure (or access the same information in the mild® patient flip chart) and review the remaining pages, you can quickly cover the advantages of mild® relative to other treatment options, and prepare your patients for what to expect during and after their mild® Procedure.

Page 2: Comparing Treatment Options

  • The chart in the center of the page quickly presents mild® benefits in comparison to other treatment options for LSS, such as epidural steroid injections, spacer implants, or open surgery
  • Below the chart, the call out reinforces the unique advantages of mild® as the only treatment with a safety profile similar to an injection, and the lasting relief expected from back surgery

MOVE2mild®

Because epidural steroid injections (ESIs) were historically the standard of care for lumbar spinal stenosis patients, your patient may be expecting you to recommend another injection. You can explain that the data shows that there is no benefit to giving more than one ESI before mild®, and that giving more than one ESI delays the patient from receiving the longer-lasting, more effective mild® Procedure.

Page 3: How mild® Removes the Problem and Leaves Nothing Behind

  • mild® addresses a major root cause of LSS by removing excess ligament tissue
  • mild® reduces compression on the nerves to restore mobility and relieve pain
  • mild® doesn’t eliminate future treatment options, as no major structural anatomy of the spine is altered

Page 4: What to Expect on the Day of the mild® Procedure

  • Short outpatient procedure
  • Can be performed using local anesthetic and light sedation
  • Incision smaller than the size of a baby aspirin
  • Patients typically resume normal activity within 24 hours with no restrictions

Page 5: What to Expect After the mild® Procedure

  • mild® has an 85% patient satisfaction rate
  • mild® continues to improve patient functionality over time
    • Over one year, average standing time increased 7x from 8 to 56 minutes with less pain
    • Over one year, average walking distance increased 16x from 246 to 3,956 feet with less pain
  • mild® helped 88% of patients avoid back surgery for at least 5 years, while providing lasting relief
  • mild® is covered by Medicare (including Medicare Advantage), the VA, U.S. Military, & IHS. Commercial coverage varies.

Setting Expectations Supports Patient Success

Every year, thousands of lumbar spinal stenosis patients are able to stand longer and walk farther with less pain thanks to the mild® Procedure, but those results aren’t achieved overnight. Improvements in patient functionality are typically achieved over time, with patients gradually increasing standing time and walking distance. If you set expectations in advance, patients may be more excited and satisfied to see their own functional improvements over time.

BONUS: Tips to Make Patient Education More Impactful
  1. Project confidence. When you showcase your knowledge and present information in ways patients can easily understand, they may feel more comfortable making decisions and following your recommendations.
  2. Encourage patients to ask questions. Take a moment between steps to confirm your patient understands the key points before moving to the next point.
  3. Discuss the benefits of reconditioning. When setting expectations around recovery, discuss the ways that patients can participate in improving their functionality. Help your patients get back on their feet by suggesting progressively longer walks, or even physical therapy.

Better Patient Education Helps Drive Success with mild®

LSS patients rely on APPs as critical members of their care team. Across the patient journey from diagnosing your patients’ LSS to finding relief with the mild® Procedure, APPs are key in supporting patients, helping them understand their condition, and feeling confident about their decision to make the move to mild®.

At Vertos, we recognize and support the role of APPs and are committed to providing education and resources that help you put more LSS patients on the path to lasting relief.

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