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03 May 2023 8 min

Why is patient education key to patient care?

Why is patient education key to patient care?

The best outcomes involve the patient taking responsibility for his or her own care. A responsible patient takes medication on time, observes the do and don’ts of managing the symptoms, ensures constant monitoring of tests and follows the diet and nutrition regimen set by the doctor. Patients are therefore responsible for their own care. No matter how much a doctor may do in terms of providing clinical support and treatment, a patient who is well versed with the consequences of the medical condition and the treatment thereof becomes the key stakeholder in clinical care.

Let us take the case of a diabetic patient. There are so many things that a diabetic need to take care of. This includes diet (eating low carb and low-fat food and eating small portions and on time), exercise (daily regimen of exercise) and medication (oral or injection). In addition, the patient needs to look for wounds or cuts that do not heal and risk the chance of developing into something more serious or watching one’s feet for any abnormal signs. All these, even if advised at the time of patient consultation may not suffice as the patient may simply forget all these. The patient needs to be educated with suitable imagery or pictures on how to detect such abnormalities – wounds that do not heal, signs of discolouration, and other warning signs.  Continuous patient education is the key to patient care.

 

How can doctors use their websites to educate patients?

The most effective way to educate patients is the doctor website. The website represents trust and credibility. Patients would certainly believe what the doctor says. Doctors can share in their websites, case studies of patients with similar conditions and how they overcame or managed them. The doctor’s website, if organised well, represents a knowledge base which the patient can refer to whenever in doubt. They can use it for booking appointments with the doctor. The menu and the content structure are key to ease of use of the doctor’s website. There are several ways by which the website can be used by the doctor to educate patients.

• Frequently asked questions: The doctor can list questions that are often asked by patients relating to conditions pertaining to the doctor’s specialisation. Patients feel reassured when they see positive answers to their questions and concerns.

• Contact details of doctor: Patients should be able to contact the doctor’s office and obtain an appointment. Patients should be able to send messages to the doctors outlining their problems and seeking appointment/consultation.

• What to do in the case of emergency? The doctor can provide guidelines on what to do in the case of medical emergencies. These will serve as a ready reckoner for patients and their families/attenders.

• Get in touch with the doctor: The doctor can provide details of their availability in terms of the dates and availability times so that patients can book consultations accordingly.

• Teleconsulting: Patients in other cities may not want to travel or simply may not be able to travel in the case of serious ailments. A teleconsultation can be arranged in such cases.

• Doctor referrals: General Practitioners and Family Doctors can refer your website and arrange for referrals for their patients.

• Do’s and don’ts: Can go a long way to educate patients on managing the medical condition.

• Understanding a condition in detail: Detailed information along with suitable illustrations and imagery can help in patient education. It empowers patients in managing their condition better.

• Imagery to give visual cues: Pictures speak a thousand words. Before and after images are very powerful in educating patients.

• Useful external links in the doctors website: For patients interested in reading further, links to external sites can serve well.

The website can be integrated with an appointment booking widget to provide patients the convenience of booking appointments. The content on the website can be strengthened with blogs and articles relating to the doctor’s speciality. If the patient contact information in the form of phone number and email address is available, then subject to privacy laws, the doctor can send proactively messages that are relevant to the specific audience. Continuous education increases the patient-doctor bond and increases the doctor’s credibility and trustworthiness amongst patients. Doctors can also publish on their website press releases, articles and speeches in conferences where the doctor has been quoted. This becomes excellent reference material for patients and improves the website’s ranking in search engines.

 

Conclusion

Patient education is key to patient health. Patients can not only manage their symptoms and conditions better but help patients go beyond that in managing the disease. It improves patient connect. In summary, this is the key to getting more patients – be it word of mouth, doctor referrals or organically from their website.

 

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