Medical terminology has a way of making even common ailments sound terrifying. For example, “contagious viral upper respiratory tract infection” sounds far more serious than “a cold.” It’s up to the physician to explain things in a way that is easy to understand. Patient education is the process by which health professionals share information with their patients in order to inform them of a condition.
An Informed Patient Makes Informed Decisions
Most healthcare facilities see the value of patient education to some extent. Brochures and posters in clinic waiting rooms are an example. True patient education goes beyond that, understanding that an informed patient or caregiver is better able to make decisions about medical care. By demystifying healthcare testing, diagnostics and treatment, you’re empowering your patient. Present information in a way that’s easy to understand and implement. Doing so will improve the doctor-patient relationship and increase patient satisfaction.
When the patient feels that they understand their diagnosis and treatment plan, they’re less likely to contact their physician with questions. This cuts down the number of unnecessary calls and hospital visits, which increases facility efficiency.
When a patient is given a treatment plan, they should be informed of all the risks, benefits and possible complications. They should also be given the risks and benefits of alternative treatments plans. Any questions or concerns they have should be answered. If they request time to consider their options, that should be granted. At that time the patient may give their informed consent, meaning they have been given all the information and consent to treatment.
It’s crucial that patients understand how their lifestyle can affect existing medical conditions. Providing realistic facts about how their behavior can improve or harm their health can lead to better adherence to your recommendations.
Peace of Mind
When a patient asks for clarification, many times they’re seeking peace of mind. When doubts and worry creep in, that’s when the phones come out and patients turn to Google to assuage their fears. This nearly always backfires! The more informed they are, the less chance there is that they will turn to the internet for peace of mind.
Patients do not like to be condescended to, nor should they have to ask you to better explain their diagnosis. Patient satisfaction increases with patient education. If you explain a diagnosis and treatment plan thoroughly and with empathy, it will be appreciated!
Patient Education for Positive Outcomes
Without education, patients are left in a vulnerable position. Those feelings of vulnerability can manifest as anger or defensiveness. It’s important to leave your patient feeling as though they understand what’s happening, why it’s happening and how to handle it. By eliminating the unknown, you’re reducing their anxiety and fear.
Contact Us for more information about the importance of patient education.