5 Tips for Effective Patient Education
Teaching patients about their health situation and treatment is an essential part of care. Educated patients will feel more involved and engaged in their care and treatment process. In the end improving healthcare outcomes and reducing re-admissions.
A big part of patient education falls on the shoulders of the nursing staff. The nurses’ instructions and support are crucial when it comes to educating patients. Whether it is teaching a new mother how to bathe her newborn baby or instructing a patient on how to deal with their chronic condition. Patient education is an important part of curing and caring for patients. What steps can you take to provide effective patient education?
1. Go digital with patient education materials
Modern technology has helped healthcare providers make the switch from paper to digital. Guidelines and patient education materials have become far more accessible than paper materials ever were. Healthcare technology solutions like bedside entertainment screens provide patient education materials right to the patient’s bedside. It gives patients access to instruction, exercises and other care information whenever they need it.
Next to digitizing paper education material, technology has also made distributing the trusted paper material easier. Care facilities can set up educational resources. Customize pieces of information for each patient and print it. That way they don’t have to reinvent the wheel for each patients. They just have to make slight changes digitally to get personalized education material on paper.
Technology also allows hospitals to change the language of the material for each patient. This ensures every patient receives high quality educational information in a language they understand. Helping them effectively follow the instructions.
Even though patient education material can be custom designed for each patient, this doesn’t mean you can just leave them to it. Be sure their individual needs are addressed. Review the education material with them. And answer any questions they might have.
2. Find out how patients learn best
What works for one patient might not work for another patient. The way a patient learns best depends on a lot of factors. Age, culture and even the patient’s condition will determine their best learning style. Take all these factors into consideration and find out if the patient learns best by watching education videos or if they prefer reading the educational material. Or maybe they would rather simply listen to instructions.
When you are depending on written materials for a patient, be absolutely sure that they understand the instructions and information. Are they really able to read and comprehend the information? Are they not just reading the material without really absorbing and utilizing the instructions?
3. Make sure patients really understand the material
We have already talked about this a little bit, but what to give this some extra attention. You can have the most wonderful and high tech patient education material available to patients. But if the information doesn’t reach your patients, it will never do them any good. Consider your patient’s strengths and limitations. Does the patient have physical, mental or emotional impairments that affect their ability to learn? Is their eyesight well enough or would large print material help them?
To make sure patients really understand the patient education material, have them explain to you what they were taught. People will often politely nod ‘yes’ even when they don’t completely understand.
4. Engage patients and peak their interest
Simply telling a patient what they have to do is not the most effective way of patient education. It’s important to clarify to patients what’s in it for them.
This requires nursing staff to find out what is important to each individual patient. Ask questions, address specific concerns they might have and take them seriously.
Also try to find out how much information they really want or need. Some patients want to know every little detail of their health condition. Others will do better with a simple factual checklist.
Engage patients in a way that works for them and keep them interested in working on their recovery.
5. Involve family members
A patient’s friends and family are a big influence. Involving family and teaching them the same instructions and exercises will improve the chances of the patient actually following the instructions.
Families play a critical role in the health care management of a patient. There is a high level of trust and comfort between patients and their families.
How effective patient education material actually is, all depends on the patient learning from the material and taking action. Family members can really help improve the effectiveness of patient education material.
Patient education materials are crucial to a quick recovery and quality healthcare management. Don’t just hand patients a piece of paper with instructions. Listen to them, know what works for them, use technology and include family member in the process.