Practical Strategies to Increase Patient Education Effectiveness in a Disease State Management Programme
Marian Ryan Henry
Patient education is an essential component of a comprehensive disease state management programme. Proper planning for the patient education component will increase its effectiveness and lead to the building of a virtual bridge between the provider and the patient. A multidisciplinary team composed of experts dealing with the particular disease being addressed should conduct all patient education planning. This will ensure that all stakeholders are involved in planning from inception and are capable of designing interventions for implementation across the healthcare system. When patient education is incorporated into all points within the system where a patient might access services, it is more effective than a single intervention conducted by an education department. The first step in the planning process for the designated task force is the completion of a comprehensive needs assessment. Results from this assessment will identify the target population and direct the programme goals, objectives, design and evaluation. Consideration must be given at the planning phase to how the programme will be marketed throughout the healthcare system. Without patient participation, even the best designed programme cannot be effective in achieving results. All potential processes for patient enrolment must be explored and incentives will increase participation rates. The identification and repetition of key education principles with the assessment and reinforcement of learned behaviours are essential to increasing educational effectiveness with patients. This standard is easy to implement if the task force embraces a systems approach to programme development. Adopting basic, clearly written, patient education literature to use system-wide contributes to consistency of the message and minimises confusion for the patients. It allows everyone from the medical assistant in the office to the pharmacist to assess patient knowledge and compliance with a plan of action. Developing a patient education programme around these principles will increase the effectiveness and reach of the programme and ensure that every teachable moment is captured along the continuum of patient care.
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