5 Strategies for Providing Effective Patient Education
HealthAugust 23, 2017

Five strategies for providing effective patient education

Learn proven tips and strategies to enhance patient teaching at your facility for improved patient engagement and health outcomes.

Patient education was once a job for physicians, but today's nurses assume most of the responsibility for educating patients and helping them to become responsible for their own health status. For patients to take a proactive role in their own care, they need to comprehend their condition and work to prevent or minimize complications from any chronic illnesses.

Patient education needs to be comprehensive and easily understood. Nurse health educators must recognize that many patients are lacking in their inability to understand health care information and what they need to do with that information.

Tips to improve patient education

Preventing re-hospitalization is a huge responsibility, especially in consideration of costly penalties that are levied for early readmissions. To accomplish this, nurses need to constantly improve patient teaching and education prior to discharge. Some of the things nurses can do to advance patient education include:

  • Delegate more responsibilities to support staff and be more focused on patient education.
  • Begin educating patients with every encounter from admission.
  • Find out what the patient already knows. Correct any misinformation.
  • Feed patients information in layman’s terms. Utilize visual aids as often as possible.
  • Question their understanding of the care, and plan for the next lesson.
  • Use return demonstration when administering care. Involve the patient from the very first treatment.
  • Ask the patient to tell you how they would explain (step-by-step) their disease or treatment to their loved one.
  • Make sure the patient understands the medications as you administer them. Make sure they understand how and when to refill medications.
  • Provide patients with information about signs and symptoms of their condition that will require immediate attention.

Five strategies for patient education success

Teaching patients is an important aspect of nursing care. Whether teaching a new mom how to bathe a newborn baby or instructing an adult who is living with a chronic heart disease, a successful outcome depends on the quality of the nurse’s instruction and support. Consider these five strategies.

1. Take advantage of educational technology

Technology has made patient education materials more accessible. Educational resources can be customized and printed out for patients with the touch of a button. Make sure the patient’s individualized needs are addressed. Don't simply hand the patient a stack of papers to read, review them with patients to ensure they understand the instructions and answer questions that arise. Some resources are available in several languages.

2. Determine the patient’s learning style

Similar information may be provided by a range of techniques. In fact, providing education using different modalities reinforces teaching. Patients have different learning styles so ask if your patient learns best by watching a DVD or by reading. A hands on approach where the patient gets to perform a procedure with your guidance is often the best method.

3. Stimulate the patient’s interest

It's essential that patients understand why this is important. Establish rapport, ask and answer questions, and consider specific patient concerns. Some patients may want detailed information about every aspect of their health condition while others may want just the facts, and do better with a simple checklist.

4. Consider the patient’s limitations and strengths

Does the patient have physical, mental, or emotional impairments that impact the ability to learn? Some patients may need large print materials and if the patient is hearing impaired, use visual materials and hands on methods instead of simply providing verbal instruction. Always have patients explain what you taught them. Often people will nod “yes” or say that they comprehend what is taught even if they have not really heard or understood. Consider factors such as fatigue and the shock of learning a critical diagnosis when educating patients.

5. Include family members in health care management

Involving family members in patient teaching improves the chances that your instructions will be followed. In many cases, you will be providing most of the instruction to family members. Families play a critical role in health care management.

Teaching patients and their families can be one of the most challenging, yet also rewarding elements of providing nursing care. First-rate instruction improves patient outcomes dramatically.

The value of patient education resources

For further resources that will strength your organization’s patient-teaching, let Lippincott Advisor help. Our best-in-class, evidence-based decision support software for institutions includes over 16,000 customizable patient teaching handouts and content entries.

In addition, the Patient Teaching Navigator content set within Lippincott Advisor includes general teaching guidance for clinicians, as well as instruction on specific types of learning scenarios for patients.

Request a free demo of Lippincott Advisor to learn how you can enhance patient education for your clinicians.

Request a Demo of Lippincott Advisor
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