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During office visits, pediatrician Charlie Obihara noticed patients didn't always understand their condition or treatment options. Since metaphors often helped flick the switch of comprehension, Obihara decided to enlist colleagues and illustrators to build an online repository of medical metaphors — or mediphors.
Launched late 2022, Medifoor.nl currently features metaphors and accompanying illustrations for 50 different diseases. Kidney function and failure, for example, are explained through the analogy of a coffee filter, while obstipation is described as poop getting stuck in a traffic jam. All are aimed at helping adults and children grasp complex concepts to help them achieve better health outcomes.
Medifoor's founders acknowledge that metaphors need to be used judiciously since their non-literal nature can create confusion as well as clarity. The team plans to continue collecting metaphors used by other medical professionals to build out the library.
People process information differently. Throw in language barriers, cognitive issues or anxiety, and crucial communication from physicians to patients can hit a brick wall. Metaphors have always been a powerful tool to repackage information so that it lands and sticks. If your organization uses images and stories that unlock understanding: time to get inspired by Medifoor and start sharing them with others in your field?
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