Indian healthcare system is believed to be diverse and can sometimes appear fragmented. While all the necessary steps are taken to provide appropriate patient care, an organised approach towards patient education can prove to be a boon.
With increasing use of various modes of communication and global exposure, patients tend to gather information from everywhere. But sorting the information and focusing on the right medical information is essential; so patient education from a reliable source is crucial.
Patient education is all about providing adequate information about patients’ medical needs, which enables them to take the right decision for themselves. When patients are educated about their medical care, their requirements and relevance to their condition, it empowers them to take an informed decision.
Taking a fair decision about their own medical care is every patient’s right. To enable and empower patients to understand every aspect of medical treatment and care related to their condition is every healthcare professional’s responsibility.
Patient education indeed helps to create health awareness and makes patients more responsible about their own health and drives patients towards making healthier choices.
Delivering right medical information, can help to reduce the burden on the healthcare system too. For example, unnecessary investigations, self-treatment, unwarranted use of medicines and risk of complications can be minimised if patients are properly educated.
Information about medical conditions, their symptoms, investigations and even treatment is easily available everywhere. One can just browse the internet and get a host of websites offering numerous articles on the same. Similarly, printed material like magazines, newspapers and other medium is also greatly in use.
While most of the information available is good and possibly well researched, it is not necessarily relevant and applicable to every patient. The symptoms of almost every patient varies and every condition is influenced by numerous individual factors, which is why there is a need for medically trained healthcare professionals.
Delivering the Right Medical Information
All the generally available medical information and healthcare blogs are something like general information. They surely help in creating health awareness but they can also make certain patients over conscious and worried about their condition. Moreover, when patients need to have medical information about their particular condition and status, the information needs to be specific and focused on the individual.
This is something only the healthcare professionals can understand and pass on to the patients. Patient education is not just providing medical information, but it is delivering the right medical information, to the right person, at appropriate time and in an acceptable manner.
What can be done?
Healthcare professionals are the most trusted persons when it comes to providing medical care and medical information. The onus lies on the healthcare team, which will improve success of medical treatments and ultimately prove beneficial for the entire healthcare system.
It is essential for healthcare professionals to choose the right type of patient education medium to deliver the right medical information. As every patient is different so there are challenges in patient education, it is important to understand which type of medical communication will suit a particular patient.
An individual plan can be drawn for the patients depending on their existing awareness and level of exposure. Patient factors that should be considered include
- Medical condition
- Needs and expectations
- Background and culture
- Willingness to get medical information
- Level of understanding and preferences
- Potential problems in their learning process
Different methods of imparting patient education are available ranging from printed material, illustrations pictures to presentations and videos. Many healthcare organizations and professionals also prefer preparing their own material or explaining patients on their own. Some may choose to dedicate a separate unit to deal with patient education, handle medical queries and patient counselling.
By choosing the best mode depending on the patient type, healthcare professionals can ensure accurate delivery of the right medical information. Proper patient education can also be considered as ‘information therapy’, which has the potential to treat a major part of the patient’s problem.