As a physician, educating patients is a critical piece of providing high quality patient care.
As patients continue to utilize the internet and other resources to become more knowledgeable on the care they plan to receive, some information may be too confusing or difficult for them to understand. In those cases, they look to their GI physician for information and clarity on how to best proceed.
While providing high-quality care is the highest priority for physicians, patient education is a task that should not be overlooked. There are numerous ways to approach patient education, and when combining multiple approaches, patients can rest assured that they are making the correct decision with a trusted doctor. Below are four simple ways physicians can help inform patients on their GI health, helping push them to the correct resources and providing the correct information.
Answer questions during the patient’s visit & follow-up
It’s natural for patients to have questions following a procedure or during their visit, and physicians are more than happy to provide answers. While you may have a busy schedule, it’s critical to take a few moments to ensure that each patient feels heard and understands how their treatment plan will impact their health.
In the bustle of a busy day, you may not have the time to answer every question a patient has for you. In these situations, be sure to let the patient know you will follow up with a clear answer in the near future or direct them to a resource that may have what they are looking for. It’s important to show you are dedicated to providing all the information your patient needs to feel comfortable and are not simply ignoring their request.
Paper Fliers are still in style
When a patient leaves your practice or ASC, give them something physical they can use to educate themselves in the future. A flier or brochure can be a great tool to help your patients understand aspects of their GI health and improve your brand reputation.
For example, if you speak with your patients about the effects of GERD, a simple brochure can answer the basic questions, provide websites for further research, and your contact information for them to call if they have further questions. If patients feel comfortable calling your location with questions you can improve their satisfaction with their care and increase their trust in your physicians and staff.
When discussing treatments or diseases with patients have posters, images, or diagrams nearby. Studies have shown that auditory memory is inferior to visual memory, meaning that showing patients something visually can be more easily remembered than a conversation.
If you have a visual representation of the GI tract, showing a patient where issues are occurring or how treatment would assist them visually will be more helpful than a simple conversation. Posters can also be useful in these situations. When you add visuals to a take-home brochure, this effect can continue after the patient has left the exam room.
Be open to saying “I don’t know”
As a medical professional you’ve spent years understanding how the GI system works, and you utilize that knowledge to help others, however, there will be times when you simply don’t know the answer to a patient’s question. Be open to admitting that you don’t have the answer at that moment. If you can’t answer a question, let the patient know that you will find it and follow up in the future via a phone call, email, or at their next appointment.
While you may think admitting you don’t know an answer lessens your relationship with a patient, the result is the opposite. Putting in research and following up with a patient with an answer and some additional resources after a visit can improve how you are perceived and can help patients perform more accurate research on their own.
Resources and knowledge are some of the greatest tools at a patient’s disposal. Providing insight into diseases, issues, or treatment plans can help patients make informed decisions about their health and care, and it is important that a physician be involved in the process to answer any questions that may arise. These avenues to educate your patients are simple and easy to manage and can boost the trust and reputation your patient has in you and your practice or ASC.