What is PEMAT?

click to enlarge scorecard

In November 2013, The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a division of the US Department of Health & Human Services, released the online Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT). The Health Mirror team has been using these criteria to standardize our evaluation of videos prior to allowing in our library.

“The Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT) is a systematic method to evaluate and compare the understandability and actionability of patient education materials.

Understandability: Patient education materials are understandable when consumers of diverse backgrounds and varying levels of health literacy can process and explain key messages.

Actionability: Patient education materials are actionable when consumers of diverse backgrounds and varying levels of health literacy can identify what they can do based on the information presented.”

As an example, our team score for the heart disease awareness video by GoRedforWomen.org was 89% for understandability and 100% for actionability (see figure 1). This positively reinforced our subjective good impression. The narrators implore patients to realize that "1 in 3 women" die from heart disease, and to know their family history, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers. The audio is clear, the script has visual text cues, and patients are given direct actions to take. Certainly, there is a subjective component to the assessment, but we find that with regular use and more than one reviewer to check for bias, there is no more than 10% variation in scoring.

Our goal is to allow videos with a usability score of over 70%. Videos can miss that mark by using medical terms without explanation, or failing to add useful visual cues, an introduction or a summary. Some videos are allowed despite failing to meet our ideal PEMAT score because they are accurate, carry evidence based information and fill an educational need that is not met otherwise. We also allow a percentage of videos that have no actionability because their sole purpose is improving health literacy, for example “Understanding Aortic Aneurysm.” Health Mirror has found the AHRQ/PEMAT to be useful in standardizing the evaluation of videos in a systematic and objective fashion.