As part of the healthcare industry’s shift toward value-based care, many organizations are focusing increased efforts on improving patient engagement. In fact, patient engagement and patient education are recognized as key components for increasing adherence and outcomes. According to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, patient education was linked to improved patient compliance and lower out-of-pocket costs. Additional research found that providing patients with targeted education materials led to greater satisfaction of care.
Although educating patients was once considered primarily the role for doctors; today patient education comes from multiple sources and various forms. While physicians are still the primary source for information, nurses and clinicians also assume much of the responsibility for educating patients. Regardless how patients receive information, being informed allows patients to make better healthcare decisions with their providers. Below are three best practices for improving patient education within a medical practice:
Best Practices for Improving Patient Education
- Patient education should be easy to understand.
First, health educators must break information down into terms the patient can understand, without excessive medical jargon or abbreviations. It is important to utilize visuals when possible. Individuals tend to remember what they see more often than what they hear or read.
- Patients should receive and utilize multiple educational resources.
Providers and clinical staff should consider providing informative materials that will help patients actively engage and learn about their treatment. When patients consult multiple reliable sources, they can make more informed decisions based on solid clinical information. Many providers keep information sheets of common conditions and treatments available online for patients to access and review. There are also excellent outside resources that clinicians may guide patients to for additional information.
- Patients should have easy access to health information.
Patient education is more than understanding conditions and treatment options. Patients should understand signs and symptoms to look for to ensure they know what to do in the event of an emergency. Patients should know how to navigate the healthcare system and how to maintain and utilize their health data. Empowering patients with access to their health information allows patients to better monitor conditions, adhere to treatment plans, correct errors and be more in control of decisions regarding their health and well-being.
These are just a few of the many ways practices can ensure patients receive the appropriate information and have a solid understanding of their treatment plan and options. While nurses, providers, and staff can provide all the necessary information it is ultimately the patient’s responsibility to follow their treatment and be active participants in their own health. Patient education is a necessary component of value-based patient care providing a greater sense of care, improves health outcomes, while lowering costs.