The Importance of Patient Education
The healthcare industry has made significant strides in prioritizing patient and provider relationships. However, patients may leave an appointment not feeling they have all the answers or are unsure about their next steps. The key to improving patient engagement is understanding patient education.
What Is Patient Education?
In today’s value-based care system, patient education focuses on long-term patient outcomes, outside their time with the healthcare organization. The American Academy of Family Physicians defines patient education as the process of influencing patient behavior and producing the changes in knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to maintain or improve health.”
Providers are responsible for using their expertise and knowledge to educate their patients about their health and the resources they have to improve their health. Patient education starts as soon as the patient is diagnosed, ideally as early as possible. The sooner the patients are aware of their condition and treatment, the better their proactive involvement with their health and healthcare provider will be.
Hospital discharge is an example of where patient education is vital. After going through several procedures, patients will receive discharge patient education that informs them about their aftercare. This may include instructions about medications they will need to take, how to manage certain medications and equipment, side effects they may experience, and long-term treatment plans.
Prioritizing patient education will establish a sense of trust and communication between the patient and provider. Long-term, trusting relationships with patients provide an opportunity to encourage and reinforce changes in patients’ behavior toward their health. Therefore, patient education is an essential component of patient engagement. Prioritizing patient education can reduce patient visits and costs while improving patient outcomes.
The Benefits and Importance of Patient Education
1. Patient Empowerment
Health scares and problems can be daunting and many people can feel lost and that they lack control over their health. Patient education helps individuals to best understand their condition, possible treatment plans, and how their long-term health will be affected and best navigated.
Patients may lack confidence in participating in their treatment plan and making major decisions out of fear of the unknown. This is where patient education plays a vital role. When healthcare providers present patients with understandable options and encourage them to ask questions, patients gain confidence and empowerment to participate in the conversation. Patients gain a sense of some control over the situation and best understand their role in their health plan.
2. Better Health Outcomes
When patients are provided with the necessary education, they may be more proactive about their health because they trust their doctors and the treatment they are receiving. Studies have shown that patients with quality education are more likely to have successful recoveries. When patients are proactive about their treatment, they are less likely to endure complications and need to return to the hospital more often. Practical instructions and informative health advice are key to lowering readmission rates.
3. Improved Patient Satisfaction and Experience
In addition to better health outcomes, patients are also more satisfied with the healthcare organizations that provide education concerning their health. Patient education can improve patient satisfaction scores related to better communication with providers and an ideal understanding of discharge planning, medications, and next steps. Preparing and educating patients instills more confidence in their health and wellness journey.
4. Better Quality of Life for Patients With Chronic Diseases
According to the CDC, chronic disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, accounting for 70% of all deaths. Health education is essential for those with heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. Chronic disease management is also long-term and recurring, which means permanent lifestyle changes may have to be made. Finding ways to educate and engage patients on their own is crucial to helping patients manage their chronic diseases. Self-management supported by patient education is one of the most successful ways to combat chronic illnesses.
Patient education helps improve self-management and encourages patients to take control of their physical and mental well-being. The relationship between patients with chronic diseases and their healthcare providers is an essential factor in their overall quality of life, especially because patients with chronic illnesses can be at a higher risk of developing mental health problems.
5. Healthcare Cost Reduction
Patient education can help providers inform patients of the proper ways to manage their health and avoid readmissions. When patients fail to follow appropriate treatment plans, they may not heal properly and have to be readmitted, increasing the cost of their healthcare plan. Better education also benefits the patient’s understanding of the most appropriate care setting and plan for their condition.
Patients who lack an understanding of their condition may make unnecessary visits to the hospital and seek treatment in the Emergency Department for a minor issue. The Emergency Department is one of the most expensive healthcare facilities and should be visited only for critical events. It’s important that patients have the proper education on how to self-manage their condition, when and where to seek follow-up treatment, and how to reduce readmission and expenses.
Education Resources and Tools
With today’s advanced technology, healthcare professionals have more tools now than ever to prioritize patient education.
1. Patient Portals
Patient portals are a great tool that allow patients to access health information online. They can easily assess their medical records and exam results without making a visit to their doctor. Some portals also enable patients to view the provider’s appointment notes, which increases transparency and establishes trust between the patient and the provider.
2. Accessible Learning Material
After a lengthy discussion with their doctor, a patient may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information. Traditional learning material allows patients to review their treatment plans at home and help develop follow-up questions. These learning materials may include printed handouts, informative charts and graphs, short videos, presentations, and more.
3. Learning Management System
A healthcare Learning Management System (LMS) can be a great tool that allows healthcare providers to offer patient education. LMS provides a virtual space for all learning materials (PDFs, eBooks, handouts, etc.) to live. Patients can easily book appointments during available time slots and are sent automated appointment reminders. This ensures patients are prepared for the appointment and are reminded to come up with questions they may have. LMS can also provide an online community where patients can interact, view healthcare articles and blogs, and stay updated with medical news and advances.
Connect With Ready Doc
If you’re ready to take the next steps in providing patients with quality education and expediting workflow through digital health technology, Ready Doc has the services to help.
As a medical credentialing management system, Ready Doc aids medical facilities and providers in streamlining the credentialing process. Ready Doc’s software also helps ensure all medical professionals possess the certifications, licenses, and necessary paperwork to practice medicine. Through free online CME and CEU, nurses and practitioners can fulfill education requirements, track their progress, and store activities and certifications in one secure place.
Ready Doc assists healthcare professionals by offering automated credentialing, secure messaging, and education courses all in one secure management solution. For more information, visit our website to contact us or schedule a demo.