Four Steps to Improving Patient Education

Delivering high quality patient care goes beyond the services your practice provides. It also includes the effort your staff makes to ensure patients feel confident in their healthcare decisions. Supporting patients during vulnerable times is something healthcare providers do best. That’s why it’s important to take the time and resources to focus on patient education resources and building strong patient provider relationships, as well as delivering excellent care. In fact, strong patient provider relationships will help enhance your patient care, as patients learn more about their healthcare options and feel even more comfortable reaching out with questions and concerns. 

Here are a few ways you can improve access to patient-friendly education materials to ensure the families you serve have all of the information they need to make well educated healthcare decisions. 

  1. Assess Your Patient Education Strategy

What are the ways your practice currently helps educate patients about their health and wellness? Do your patients feel empowered by the educational materials and resources you provide? If you can’t answer these questions off the top of your head, it may be time to survey your patients to help your team better understand how well your current patient education strategy is performing.

Collecting patient feedback can help you identify gaps and pain points in your current strategy, recognize patterns in how patients most often receive educational materials, and understand how to reach all patients with even more information. As you look to improve your overall strategy, enhance patient education materials, and strengthen your current and future patient relationships, collecting and analyzing data will help your entire team understand what needs improvement and how your efforts are impacting patient care. 

  1. Identify Target Audiences and Adapt Patient Education Materials to Meet their Needs 

We could all benefit from learning more, but we also all suffer from information overload. If you’re asking patients to review important health and wellness resources, it’s important to make sure those educational materials meet their specific needs. If that seems like an overwhelming task, remember that there are high quality materials available to support your team. Instead of creating your own materials and personalizing them for your patients, let technology do the work. For example, Vital Interaction’s Smart List Engine can help you create specific contact lists based on individual factors that you select to reduce administrative burdens on your staff.

Here’s an example of how it can help: 

CMS recently updated Medicare coverage for diabetics to drop the four times a day testing requirement for the CGM device, while enabling beneficiaries to take advantage of any insulin along with continuous glucose monitor therapy. For some patients, especially for individuals with chronic conditions, this is essential information that could help improve daily care. But while this information may be life changing for some patients, it’s not relevant at all for others. How can you ensure important healthcare information gets to the right patients, at the right time? Vital Interaction can help. 

  1. Develop the Right Approach to Building Strong Patient Provider Partnerships 

The partnership between a physician and patient requires dual responsibility. Physicians have a duty to inform patients how to achieve health and wellness, and patients have a responsibility to act on the information provided in their best health interest (Paterick, 2017).

Having the right materials to support difficult patient conversations is important to building strong patient provider relationships. Providing patient education materials that set the right tone between making complex topics easier to understand and helping patients better understand highly personal and in some cases, scary information, can help. From the importance of preventative care to understanding a specific diagnosis to important follow-up care; take-home patient education materials help improve patient outcomes. 

  1. Deliver Patient Education Materials in More than One Way

It’s important to keep in mind while curating your educational materials that people learn differently. Some are visual learners, while some are verbal and others auditory. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “Don’t assume that your patients read the materials you give them or direct them to. If the information is critical, make sure you or someone in your office reviews the information with your patient and/or the patient’s caregiver.” 

While in-person patient education is often the most effective way to help individuals understand their diagnosis and make the best decisions about their treatment options, additional materials that patients can take home to share with friends and family members can play an important role in their long-term care as well. From printed brochures to online materials like YouTube videos and downloadable presentations, technology is helping bring us closer together and share information easier and faster than ever before. Check out MedlinePlus for creative ways to present educational materials.

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