Active education goes a long way for patients

by Allison Matson, The Nebraska Medical Center | June 28, 2013

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It's no secret.

Patients who are actively involved in their health care experience better outcomes and incur lower costs than those who are not. It's a simple concept, but often easier said than done.

Traditionally, patients have been discharged from the hospital with a stack of materials to educate themselves on their condition or follow-up care.

"This 'data dump' only serves to create information overload and a sense of feeling lost in the medical world," said Jana Uryasz, patient education specialist for Nursing Professional Practice and Development.

The Interdisciplinary Patient Education Committee partners to standardize patient education at The Nebraska Medical Center, Bellevue Medical Center and UNMC Physicians. During the past year, they have worked to incorporate "Teach Back" into all clinics and clinical areas. This active form of learning ensures a patient understands the concept presented.

During Teach Back, clinicians begin by informing the patient they want to ensure they are doing a good job of explaining. After presenting the information, the patient is asked to "teach back" what he or she learned. This places the responsibility on the health care provider to ensure they have communicated in a clear and understandable manner. If the patient is not able to communicate back, the clinician is accountable for demonstrating in a different way.

When we look at the Learning Pyramid, it makes sense -- active learning is most effective.

Research shows retention increases the more active the learner is. For example, when listening to a lecture, the average ability to retain the information is only 5 percent. But when you practice by doing, retention levels increase to 75 percent.

"This does not negate, however, the need for supplemental education to reinforce the information given to patients verbally," said Dara Schlecht, manager, 8Telemetry, Clinical Education. The patient education Intranet site has been re-designed to help clinicians promote the following tools:

  • written teaching sheets to share with their family and refer back to. Some sheets are branded and approved internally, and others are available through Healthwise;
  • Web-based interactive videos available through Emmi Solutions®; and
  • Online resources with content on thousands of topics through Healthwise, Medline Plus and UptoDate.

Guidelines for creating patient education are posted on the Patient Education site. If you do not see what you are looking for, submit your idea at "How to Create a Teaching Sheet."

To access the re-designed Patient Education page, click here.

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