The power of pictures

Information, knowledge and guidance is so important for service users within healthcare.

Knowing how to look after ourselves, who to contact when we have concerns or what to do when things go wrong (in relation to our health) is so important.

Think of the time when a patient didn’t ring or ask to come sooner when they had signs or symptoms of a serious disease or illness. Think of the time when a patient ignored something as they thought it wasn’t important. Or the time when a patient didn’t know or remember how to respond in an acute episode/attack.

We sometimes think “we told them and gave them information on it” – yet we don’t think if they understood what we give or related to it. With such a diverse population it is important to remember: Just because we understand something written, doesn’t mean everyone else will.

With such busy lifestyles and the constant bombardment of reminders, words, letters, messages and emails – our messages need to be clear, succinct, universal, to the point and memorable. Hello pictures!

A picture paints a 1000 words but they also overcome all the barriers above such as language, disabilities and memorability. We sometimes underestimate pictures as “childish”or “not proper” – they don’t seem to hold the same value a business paper or standard operating procedure would hold. They are often dismissed as “not serious” or “offensive/dumbing down”

It’s about time there was recognition for the power in pictures. One of the most complex things to do is take a long, boring and forgettable information guide and convert it into a memorable, succinct and impactful graphic. Never underestimate it. Simplicity works.

I’ve yet to see this fully utilised in healthcare. There are so many times I’ve picked up a leaflet or information guide at a healthcare service and just thought “no one will remember, understand or relate to this.” We are raised in a system that values words, complex writing styles and analytically challenging information. Our whole education is based on this. There has been no room for pictures – a thing that is associated and left in our childhood.

So I ask you to rethink the power, potential and possibilities of pictures. They can transform and help so much – we’ve just got to be more smarter in using them to their full potential

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