Engage Patients with Educational Messaging
Educating patients about their upcoming medical procedures is an important part of building trust and increasing retention. Using digital technologies to educate patients is just one way to reinforce messaging and improve patient compliance. This article provides some examples of how to digitally engage with patients both before and after undergoing a medical procedure.
Pre-Procedure Patient Education
Let’s say a patient needs to have surgery to correct carpal tunnel. Surgery can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing, even for a simple outpatient procedure. Even though the patient may have an appointment to discuss the surgery with a doctor or nurse before the procedure, it’s easy to forget the information or have attention lapses because of anxiety.
Instead of relying on the healthcare provider to thoroughly explain everything and the patient writing down or remembering all the instructions, email and text reminders can be used to reinforce the doctor’s instructions. Some healthcare providers already hand out paper instructions, but they are often generalized and are easy to lose in the shuffle.
Sending the detailed instructions in an email makes them easier for patients to review and reference. The information can also be sent exactly when it is needed. Sending notifications a few days before the surgery can help increase compliance and defray the costs of rescheduling. Some examples of appropriate notifications include when to start fasting, when to arrive at the surgery facility, and other pre-surgery instructions.
Post-Procedure Patient Education
In an outpatient setting, engaging patients after a procedure is especially important to make sure they heal properly and do not need additional treatments. A patient recovering from anesthesia is not particularly prepared to listen to discharge instructions. Instead of relying on memories and handouts to convey important information, secure email and texting can be used to help patients manage their care at home.
Some topics to cover include:
- Medication instructions
- Care management or techniques to meet clinical needs
- Individual patient needs or circumstances
- Potential symptoms or side effects patients can expect
After a carpal tunnel procedure, emails can remind patients when to take medication, how to shower with their bandages and keep incisions clean, and some light stretching they can do to increase mobility.
By educating patients on what they can expect and empowering them to manage their own health care, it can reduce patient readmissions and improve health outcomes.
Patient Education Methods
Many patients prefer to receive digital communications. However, we must mention the HIPAA requirements for sending sensitive information electronically. The email examples above constitute ePHI and must comply with HIPAA. Briefly, this means using encryption, archiving messages, and ensuring data integrity through access controls. You can read more about the HIPAA requirements for email and texting in other blog articles on our website.
Once the proper protections are in place, it’s easy to set up automated messages for common procedures. As another example, let’s take an organization that provides colonoscopy procedures. The fasting and medication regimen is well-defined for this procedure. Staff can create a series of automated reminders based on the date and time of the patient’s procedure to remind them when to start fasting, take the medication, and stop drinking liquids.
In fact, a study conducted by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that a series of text messages were about equally as effective as having nurses call patients with the educational material before their colonoscopies. By reducing the amount of time nurses are making these phone calls, it can streamline operations and reduce costs.
Although digital communication is popular, it should not replace those personal interactions with healthcare providers. These engagement and education tips are most successful when they are used to reinforce messaging from trusted health care providers. If you would like to learn more about how LuxSci can help, please reach out to us.