Patient education is a key driver of a treatment outcome. Learn here what it is, what the benefits are and what you can do.
Do you remember your doctor’s instructions on how to use an inhaler? Are you confused about which medicine to take first when you have a bag full of pills? Well, you are not alone if you have difficulty following medical advice. In fact, it happens to a large number of patients. Regrettably, low health literacy is a common yet often overlooked problem in the US. In this article, we will explore facts about patient education and how increasing health literacy boosts treatment outcomes.
Before we begin our journey, let’s have a quick look at patient education.
What is Patient Education?
Basically, patient education is a patient’s right to actively participate in a treatment program. In essence, it enables them to gain sufficient knowledge about the proper use of medicines, medical devices and helps them to follow a medical advice. On a healthcare provider’s part, it is their duty to ensure the patient is getting information as intended.
Patient education may also be considered as a subset of health education. The latter concept embraces other aspects of disease like prevention, lifestyle changes, and dietary habits. Traditionally, the concept of patient education was limited to patient information. However, now, the trend has progressively shifted to empowering the patients through individualized approach and attention to the individual needs.
“Patient Education is a teaching learning process aimed at ensuring good health and optimal treatment outcomes”
Know the Benefits of Patient Education
- The high quality of care. Educating a patient is key to a high quality of care. In order to optimize the treatment outcomes, it is very important that a patient knows how to use a medicine, the importance of following medical advice, and what the medicine is doing to their body.
- Enhanced quality of life. According to a WHO report, patient education significantly decreases the number of hospital admissions of patients with bronchial asthma or diabetic coma. Moreover, it results in a better quality of life by delaying amputations in 75% of cases.
- Improved patient satisfaction. High quality of care naturally results in improved patient satisfaction. We should always keep in mind that patients are central to any treatment program as they deserve the right to know what’s happening to their health. Particularly, this is critical in the management of chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, problems with respiration and arthritis.
- Increased compliance. Compliance, also called adherence, refers to the degree to which a patient follows a doctor’s advice on the use of medicines. In a broader sense, it also includes proper use of medical devices, self-care measures, and therapy sessions. Most notably, you should understand that it’s not only the patient who is key to increase In fact, a positive patient-physician relationship determines the degree of compliance. When apatient can’t understand what they were told, you cannot expect a good result.
- Improved staff satisfaction. Though staff satisfaction comes next to patient satisfaction, it is the quality of care. Highly motivated staffs are always in a better position to deliver high-quality health services.
- Effective use of resources. A treatment program comprises of a number of resources. For example, human resources, financial resources, materials and time. An effective patient education ensures all these resources are optimally utilized.
What Physicians Can Do to Make Patient Education Effective
Considering the patient is a beneficiary, it’s the duty of the doctor in charge to make the patient education effective. Here are some tips the doctors may want to consider.
- Evaluate your patient’s needs, preferences, level of knowledge and potential barriers in the teaching-learning process.
- Sit with your patient and make a plan about how you are going to deliver the information in the best possible way.
- Set realistic objectives and goals.
- Find the essential resources and make sure to use them efficiently.
Irrespective of the type of patient education, do not miss the following factors.
- What your patient needs to do and why
- When your patient can expect results (if applicable)
- Warning signs (if any) your patient should watch for
- What your patient should do if a problem occurs
- Who your patient should contact for questions or concerns
The Role of the Patient in Patient Education
As a patient seeking treatment and high-quality health services, you may want to follow the tips mentioned below.
- Ask questions whenever there is a confusion or you have a query.
- Take a note of the key points.
- Prepare a list of the questions that you would like to ask on a doctor visit.
- Learn enough about your condition through reliable sources like authentic health websites, printed materials, and counseling from registered health professionals.
Know the Means of Patient Education
A doctor can use various methods to impart patient education through many ways. One-to-one communication forms the cornerstone but you may use other methods mentioned below.
- Brochures or other printed materials
- YouTube videos
- Videos or DVDs
- PowerPoint presentations
- Posters or charts
- Models or props
- Group classes
- Trained peer educators
- Patient education is patient-centered approach and a subset of health education.
- Doctors, patients, pharmacists, nurses and other health professionals are the components of patient education.
- To address specific patient problems, there may be a need for training the concerned health professionals.
- Patient education is critically important to the patients with long-term illnesses.
- Over the last few decades, the patient education model has changed from a general information delivery approach to an individualized approach.
Want To Know More?
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