Meet Jill. Jill is battling metastatic cancer and—like many patients—she struggles to keep her various doctors, medical tests, and treatment plans straight on a regular basis. When her head is clear enough and she’s not either devastated or elated by recent test results, Jill asks for information to be sent to her, in written form or online, so she can read it later.
Whether a diagnosis is cancer like Jill’s, or a chronic condition like diabetes, it’s still important to gain a solid understanding of the treatment plan.
Health care organizations can help people like Jill by prioritizing patient education in care coordination programs. According to a recent survey published by the Health Intelligence Network, 71 percent of respondents identified patient and caregiver education as the top strategy their organizations used to engage patients.
Care coordinators listed these as the top five features patient education needs to have to be effective:
- Easy to understand
- Easy to deliver
- Searchable in a variety of ways
- Fits into their workflow
The challenge of making patient education work for everyone might seem daunting. But there’s hope. Here are four ways to start helping care coordinators and patients.
One: Deliver consistent health information to patients.
Jill knows she can ask her providers for information that she can read later and that they can track via her electronic health record to see what information she’s received and viewed. When she was first diagnosed, Jill craved health information. She wanted the latest and greatest information about her condition. So, it’s not a surprising statistic that 72 percent of internet users say they have looked online for health information in the past year.
When you have an effective and efficient care coordination program, your team can deliver one-on-one information to patients like Jill with more impact, while increasing appeal, comprehension, and retention.
According to the National Institutes of Health, patients tend to immediately forget 40 to 80 percent of the information their doctors tell them during an office visit. Being able to provide patients with information about ways to manage their condition and their medications after they leave the doctor’s office is critical.
Two: Ensure that your patient education is unbiased and evidence-based.
Unbiased information is necessary to ensure accuracy and reliability because health content, like every form of content, can be manipulated by self-interested parties. Who pays for studies? Who benefits when results are conclusive? It’s possible that instead of helping your patients and your organization, you may be inadvertently helping a pharmaceutical or medical device company’s bottom line.
For Jill and her family, having the assurance that the information she gets from her providers is unbiased and evidence-based gives her peace of mind. She knows she can trust the credibility of the care coordination team because the content offers objectivity and facts.
Three: Provide behavior change tools for care coordinators and patients.
When you give your patients access to tools and information, you directly help them achieve their health goals. And care coordinators develop an understanding of the whole patient—her condition and where she is on her care journey. Regardless of where a person is, best practices in behavioral science begin with listening to people, helping them identify personal motivators for change, and guiding them toward success. Offer tools that motivate, interventions that are grounded in behavior change science, and content that engages, and you’ll reach each patient with more impact.
Four: Offer education that is easy to deliver and easy for patients to understand.
It’s not surprising that health literacy is a continual challenge for all of us. What’s getting in the way of patient comprehension? Pain, fear, stress, medications—any of these can affect our ability to grasp and remember information. Information presented in plain language is crucial for people like Jill. She isn’t a health professional and before this point in her life, she’s been very healthy. Having information that’s easy to understand increases health literacy, helps people take actions to improve their health and encourages patients to stay on their treatment plan.
Making health content easy for your care coordinators to find and prescribe is important, too. A good patient education solution integrates into your patient management system and allows care coordinators to quickly get to the right education, at the right time, to meet each patient’s needs.
Read our eBook, The State of Care Coordination: 6 Illuminating Strategies You Should Know, for more information on best practices in care coordination to improve outcomes by getting people the information they require.
Since 1975 our singular mission has been to help people make better health decisions. That mission, combined with our innovative spirit, leads to health education, technology and services that power patient relationships. Healthwise patient-specific resources integrate into existing workflows, making it easy to deliver tailored, meaningful information to help make every moment in care matter. Find out more at www.healthwise.org.