6 Best Practices for Nurse Educators to Teach Patients About Their Health
An effective and structured patient education strategy facilitates compliance with state and federal wellness initiatives. The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program called: Meaningful Use and Value Based Purchasing initiatives, concurrently guides United States medical providers toward risk-bearing, accountable care. In this environment, where provider compensation rests on community wellness, it is vital that patients understand their care plans.
Organizations face a challenge in educating patients with varied cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Additionally, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports that over 50-percent of adults in the U.S. possess some degree of medical illiteracy, making effective patient education a top priority. Using the following six practices, care providers can establish a foundation for effective patient education.
Practice 1: Teaching the Teachers
Quality health care education starts with skilled teachers.  As such, provider organizations typically employ experienced, graduate nursing professionals to manage patient education programs and oversee training for staff members and consumers, this from research gathered by the organization: Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare.
Patient education training starts with the onboarding process, where new hires participate in simulated training exercises to gain familiarity with standard educator practices and medicine as a whole. During the simulations, new hires observe experienced staff educate clients from diverse backgrounds. New hires learn the latest best practices in patient education, as well as the organization’s current objectives. New hires also learn how to use available resources effectively, while educating consumers who may have difficulty grasping all the necessary health care information.
Practice 2: Teaching the Patients
Staff members require sufficient resources to maximize the quality and uniformity of patient education. Therefore, care provider organizations train enough staff members to educate patients effectively and successfully. Organizations also regularly incorporate the latest medical best practices to compete in the new risk-bearing caregiving setting. This information resides in the organizational database used by all staff members, ensuring patient education effectiveness.
Practice 3: Standardizing the Teaching Process
Standardization prevents information fragmentation and teaching gaps. As such, care provider organizations establish predefined patient education processes and clinician guidelines. Care providers define the processes in meetings where team members determine what information is important for patients and family members. After identifying this information, care providers incorporate the teaching points into the organization’s electronic health records workflow, which guides caregivers in educating patients using medical best practices and proven teaching techniques.
Currently, the teach-back method is a best practice among patient educators. Using the technique, nurses listen to patients recite instructions or watch them perform procedures, while ensuring that the clients fully comprehend care plans.
Practice 4: Technology Incorporation
Health care organizations that have solid frameworks for patient education technology regularly publish, in several formats, evidence-based content established by the latest best practices. This resource offers information for quick access by patients, physicians and nurses in digital and printed forms. Organizations also make this information available for a variety of devices, such as tablets, laptops and mobile devices.
Health care providers sometimes source content from third-party vendors, such as Wolters Clinical Drug Information. This firm offers current medical information translated into more than 20 languages.
Practice 5: Resource Management
It is critical that patients understand printed information. Providers use material written as simply as possible, written on a fifth- to seventh-grade comprehension level. Care providers also customize content for various patient age groups or disabilities. Because today’s best practices are always being updated, providers use flexible information repositories to simplify the monitoring of content relevance and management.
Practice 6: Personalized Instruction
Nurses must assess each client as an individual, which is sometimes a challenge for caregivers who have treated the same conditions frequently.  This process traditionally begins, according to research by Healthcare Global media, with evaluating the client’s learning ability and specific medical needs, which is sometimes problematic when a suffering patient may not be able to focus clearly.
If a patient has difficulty understanding English, they may not readily admit this. If necessary, care providers should arrange a translator to make sure the patient and their family members understand all information completely.
Nurse-led initiatives improve patient outcomes.  These professionals directly monitor and treat patients daily. Research in the journal, Critical Care Nurse, reveals that practitioner experience alone does not facilitate positive patient outcomes; the combined experience of all organizational professionals cataloged in an accessible electronic health records system results in high quality health care.
Research and heath care outcomes point to the fact that team-centered patient educational initiatives result in consistency and improved workflow. This is achieved most effectively when nurse educators teach patients with knowledge gained from the classroom, their peers and the caregiving setting.
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