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The need with which healthcare providers share information with patients must evolve to meet the regulatory requirements of Meaningful Use, Value-based purchasing and the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. In order to improve compliance and outcomes, these materials must be provided in a format that patients understand.

According to the Institute of Medicine, more than half of Americans have some form of limited health literacy. They have also found that there is a higher rate of hospital readmission among those with limited health literacy. This is a challenge on many levels for healthcare providers who not only want to improve compliance and achieve optimal outcomes, but also for those who seek to improve patient engagement and retention.

Advances in information technology allow providers to expand upon how they deliver educational materials to patients. Patients with poor reading skills will have a difficult time understanding print materials provided, especially if they are under stress. One study found that 80% of patients forgot what clinicians told them and 50% got the information provided wrong! Therefore, patient education must be delivered in a variety of formats that meet the unique learning styles and diversified needs of patients.

Consider this scenario: John Smith presents to find out the results of his prostate biopsy. His urologist discusses the results and provides recommendations for prostate cancer treatment. Perhaps the doctor provides educational materials to the patient in the form of a brochure, worse case scenario, nothing is provided. The patient must then determine the best treatment option, while discussing the options provided with his family. For the education they received to be successful, the patient must understand it. The question however, is do they?

By providing patient education materials in a variety of formats, the provider improves health literacy. This allows the patient to become better engaged in their healthcare planning. Patient engagement is linked to improved compliance and outcomes, which leads to improved patient satisfaction.

Video is an excellent medium for delivering educational material because it is not only cost effective, but also provides information both visually and audibly. By intertwining video with a teach back strategy, clinicians can ensure what the patient learned through the video is accurately understood. Video also ensures that each patient is provided with consistent clinical information. Clinicians may find they have difficulty sharing everything needed on a particular topic in a short office visit. By using video to share information, they can ensure all necessary information was conveyed. Video can also be easily shared with loved ones or watched by the patient more than once.

There are a variety of video resources available for patient education such as the Mayo Clinic’s YouTube Channel. Facilities can also create their own videos by showcasing different clinicians sharing information on a specific topic. Alternately, a professional videographer can create patient education videos.

By investing in patient education through a variety of mediums, clinicians can ensure their patients truly comprehend the important information shared with them. A small investment in education will reap vast benefits by way of improved outcomes, compliance, patient retention and patient satisfaction.