Patient education has always been an important part of any office visit, but can pose a challenge once patients leave. Studies show that patients often forget verbal instructions given by their doctor. Also, patients often obtain misinformation from the internet. And now with the EHR Incentive Program (“Meaningful Use”), physicians are looking for additional ways to engage patients and families in their healthcare decisions. Dispensing easy-to-understand patient education brochures is simple, fast, and can help compliment physician instructions.
Reason #1: Improve Doctor-Patient Communication Leading to Greater Compliance
Patient education brochures can break-down complicated procedures, diseases, and therapies into relevant and easy-to-read material, enabling patients to remember important information after leaving their provider’s office. Colorful, professionally illustrated graphics that clearly illustrate important medical concepts to patients help improve communication by combining verbal directions with visual aids. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) points out that “patients who are well informed of their medical condition are more likely to comply with their provider’s recommended regimen.”*
Reason #2: Save Valuable Office Time for You and Your Staff with More Effective Communication
Professionally written patient brochures can be a huge time saving tool. Patients do not always understand what their doctor is telling them, even if they’re nodding their head in agreement. Having colorful, accurate images and text to review with your patient while going over their condition can lead to better understanding and less questions down the line. Additionally, patient education brochures can promote shared decision making between doctors, patients, and family members which saves time by gaining patient buy-in.
Reason #3: Help Satisfy Meaningful Use Requirements
According to the HHS, one of the goals of Meaningful Use “aims to improve patients’ understanding of their health and related conditions so they take a more active role in their health care.” Engaging patients and their families using tools like patient education brochures helps improve health outcomes and enables patients to increase their participation in informed decision-making. By providing them with a convenient hand-out, patients and their families are able to make smarter choices they are more confident about.
However you choose to educate your patients, it benefits you to choose a method that is
easy for your patients to understand while in your office and retain the information once they’re home,
simple for you and your staff to use,
and improves your patient's knowledge of their condition to the point they feel comfortable making decisions, and complying with your instructions.
*U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration. Health Information Technology and Quality Improvement. Available from: http://www.hrsa.gov/healthit/toolbox/HealthITAdoptiontoolbox/MeaningfulUse/intro2meaningfuluseandpatientandfamily.html. [Accessed June 2014].