Why Is Patient Education Important? How Does it Impact the U.S Healthcare System?

In the current healthcare situation, where there is strong competition among healthcare organizations to provide the best services to patients, it is necessary that they should work on patient education. Knowing the fact that it is the most crucial process of the healthcare organization, it is necessary to build strong communication first with the patients and their families. Let’s further dig into why is patient education important and how it can be achieved.

Why is Patient Education Important?

atient Education Important - 6 reasons

Key reasons why is patient education important and why it should be a strategic priority:

  • Hospital Reimbursements
  • Healthcare Cost Reduction
  • Chronic Illness Prevention
  • Time Saver for the Clinician
  • Patient Experience Improvements

1. Hospital Reimbursements

Providers are stepping up their efforts to educate patients in order to guarantee that they will continue to satisfy the criteria for value-based treatment for the patients.

A few examples of value-based payment systems are the Value Modifier (VM) Program, Quality Payment Programs (QPPs), and Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). These were developed in order to:

  • Make compensation contingent on the level of quality and cost-effectiveness care
  • Increase the usage of information on healthcare
  • Encourage the achievement of better health outcomes

Because of technological advancements, it is now simpler than ever before to go beyond the provision of printed materials to patients in order to educate them in a manner that is both economical and expeditious. It is possible for healthcare practitioners to educate patients via automated text messages rather than manually reaching out to patients, which would save staff time. To encourage patients to have better outcomes, targeted text messages may include links to instructional blog articles, videos, and other online resources, and these messages can be sent straight to patients’ mobile phones.

2. Healthcare Cost Reduction

Each year, avoidable patient readmissions cost the federal government in the United States around $17 billion. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) came up with the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program in 2012 in order to combat the alarmingly high rate of readmissions. This program penalizes hospitals when an excessive number of patients return within one month of completing their treatment.

Records from the federal government reveal that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) penalized 2,545 hospitals in 2021 for having an excessive number of Medicare patients readmitted within 30 days.

That’s over half of all of the hospitals in the country! But how can practices reduce the number of patients who have to be readmitted and avoid incurring extra financial costs for the follow-up services they use?

Education of the patient may assist health care practitioners in informing and reminding patients of the appropriate methods to self-manage their treatment and avoid readmissions that are not medically necessary. A patient may be able to prevent needless visits to the hospital by understanding the kind of treatment environment that is most suitable for their condition.

For instance, a patient who is lacking in knowledge could go to the Emergency Department (ED) for treatment of a very minor condition, when an Urgent Care Center (UCC) would be a far better choice. The emergency department is one of the most costly settings in the healthcare system, and as such, it should not be used for any treatment that is not considered an emergency.

Patients may promote quicker recovery by being educated on how to follow guidelines for self-care, as well as when and where to seek treatment. This helps reduce the number of times patients need to be readmitted to the hospital, which in turn reduces costs.

3. Chronic Illness Prevention

One other thing that may be learned from COVID-19 is the heightened danger to a patient’s health that is related to having a chronic disease. According to the findings of a research that included participants from 12 different states, 73% percent of COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital had at least one underlying chronic disease, and the rates of hospitalization rose as the number of disorders increased.

Even before the pandemic, persons with chronic and mental health issues accounted for 90 percent of the nation’s healthcare expenditures, and chronic diseases were responsible for seven of the top ten main causes of mortality in the United States.

Self-management, which is backed by patient education, is one of the most effective methods for combating chronic diseases.

The self-management of a number of prevalent chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis, is fraught with similar difficulties. These difficulties include the following:

  • Dealing with a disability or symptoms
  • Monitoring any physical indicator
  • Managing intricate medication schedules and protocols
  • Ensuring that one’s nutritional needs are met and exercising regularly
  • Adjusting oneself to the psychological and social pressures
  • Difficult adjustments in lifestyle
  • Participating in fruitful conversations with the professionals who offer medical care

When it comes to the self-management of chronic disease, the patient’s relationships with their healthcare professionals, friends, family, and community members are crucial. It has been shown that education and self-management programs that are adapted to the needs of particular communities and delivered via a variety of approaches are effective in improving health outcomes.

4. Time Saver For the Clinician

According to research by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), there will be a shortage of more than 100,000 doctors in the United States by the year 2030. As the number of shortages increases, doctors will have less and less time to see patients. At present, the typical doctor sees twenty patients in a single day.

This necessitates limiting the amount of time spent with each patient, which presents a number of challenges. To begin, there is a correlation between reducing the amount of time spent in consultation with a patient and greater levels of burnout for the treating physician.

The health of the Patient

It is more challenging for patients to communicate with their physicians during short sessions, and it is more challenging for doctors to ensure that patients completely grasp the next actions they should be doing in their treatment plan.

With the limited amount of time and the shrinking number of available physicians, how are healthcare organizations supposed to fill the gap?

An efficient approach to assisting patients in taking charge of their own health care is to follow up with them after their appointment to educate them and give reminders. Text messages that comply with HIPAA, for instance, may be sent directly to patients and can be automated to make it easier for care teams to communicate with patients.

You May Also Read: How Do Physicians Motivate Patients to Lead a Healthy Lifestyle

Physician Burnout

42% of all doctors report having experienced burnout, which may result in decreased energy, depersonalization, depression, physician turnover, and mishaps involving patient safety.

Increased patient education should be a priority for healthcare practitioners in order to free up more time for physicians, hence lowering their stress levels and protecting them from burnout. Patients who are informed attend their appointments with fewer and more focused inquiries, and they are also able to take measures to prevent unnecessary readmissions.

5. Patient Experience Improvements

Patient education helps patients increase their sense of self-efficacy and achieve better outcomes by assisting them in following prescribed medication and treatment plans, recognizing aberrant symptoms, and determining what actions to do when problems develop. Every outcome that can be improved by patient education also contributes to an overall improvement in the patient experience.

Patients may reduce their uncertainty and anxiety by learning what to anticipate and where to go before their appointments via pre-appointment education. Education provided after a patient’s session may facilitate a healthy recovery with fewer difficulties for the patient. The actual goal of value-based care is to enhance outcomes, such as patient happiness and quality of life, by ensuring that patients are kept informed and educated throughout the whole of their journey as a patient.

How Can Nurses Ensure Patient Comprehension?

Many patients have a limited understanding of healthcare and its associated topics. If a patient does not understand their disease, they may experience worry or put off obtaining therapy for longer than necessary.

It may make all the difference to educate patients on how to take care of themselves and what to anticipate throughout their recovery.

Because nurses are trained professionals who are adept at teaching patients and possess strong communication skills, hospitals often charge nurses with the obligation of providing health education to patients. The combination of practical expertise and a genuine interest and care for the physical and mental well-being of their patients makes nurses excellent candidates for the role of educator.

To better guarantee that patients comprehend the necessary medical procedures, a more interactive approach is required. It is the responsibility of the nurses to show the processes and then have patients either repeat what they have learned or carry out the operations themselves. Additionally, nurses should educate the patient’s family members or other caregivers who are providing care at home.

The Bottom Line

Patients’ health literacy may be improved by readability. However, even after leaving the hospital, a significant number of patients do not comprehend the care instructions that have been provided to them.

It should come as no surprise that this has adverse effects on one’s health. Patients won’t get well if they don’t comprehend their treatment plan or if they don’t follow their doctor’s instructions. Instead, they run the risk of contracting a sickness or experiencing a medical condition that forces them to return to the hospital.

Patients find readmissions to be an ordeal, and they place a significant financial burden on the healthcare system. But, happily, patients may steer clear of them if their physicians provide them with enough education.

It is helpful to a patient’s confidence in a health decision to provide them with all of the relevant facts on how a choice will affect them. If you provide them with the appropriate amount of information, they won’t feel overwhelmed, but they will still be able to provide informed consent over their choice.

When a patient wishes to leave despite the recommendation of the medical staff, this might be helpful. If they are unable to comprehend the repercussions of their actions, they can make a decision that jeopardizes their health after they have left the facility. However, when they are provided with sufficient knowledge on how this may adversely affect their health, they feel motivated to stay.

And when they do leave at the appropriate time, it is essential for them to carry home instructions. This guarantees that patients have a clear understanding of what to do after they leave the facility so that they can finish the whole recovery process. Because of this, there is a far lower chance of them having to return to the medical facility just because they did not understand what their treatment instructions were.

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