5 tips for effective patient education materials

Giving patients written educational material, particularly regarding topics that come up frequently, saves physicians time and can help patients feel more confident about managing their health. But developing such materials and keeping them updated can be a big task for a busy office.

There are best practices to creating great handouts, however. Check out the following tips from Physicians Practice and Medical Economics:

  • Don't start with a blank page, but fill in information using a pre-made template, such as the one provided by orthopaedic surgeon C. Noel Henley, in a Physicians Practice blog post.
  • Close each article with a call to action that tells them what to do next, such as "call the office for an appointment, download a free guide to their condition or disease, or just read another article," Henley advised.
  • Make handouts interactive. For example, when trying to address the common problem of obesity among her patients, internist-cardiologist Eugene Eisman created an information packet that included a food diary for patients to complete, she explained in Medical Economics.
  • Create handouts that are unique to your practice. Both articles emphasize this point. You can download generic materials from a variety of sources, they explained, but the messages most likely to resonate with patients will come from and sound like you--a resource patients already like and trust.
  • Ask for patients' reactions to handouts and tailor them based on what you learn, Eisman suggested. Most importantly, this dialogue may help you get at the sources of patients' highest concern.

To learn more:
- read the article from Medical Economics
- see the post from Physicians Practice