Patient education is something we often talk about in nursing, and regularly do during the normal care of our day. The challenge is that time is often short, and patients do not always retain the information the first time. I know it took me to learn the signs, symptoms and complications of Chronic Heart Failure, and I’ve never had to live with it. So both time and being able to retain information is an issue. How can we help patients retain information and better integrate it into our care?
Another challenge is providing supporting materials. Globally very few hospitals have graphic designers and media specialists working for them, yet around the world we treat many of the same diseases. Nurses have full plates during their normal working day, there is rarely time to generate any new patient education materials especially material that integrates video, animations, or other forms of new media. So how can we address the challenge of creating time?
A final challenge, and these three are by no means an exhaustive list, is keeping the evidence up to date. Research and best practice practice is always being produced and creates changing goal lines. When the education material is finally created how is it kept up to date and how regularly can new information be added?
These are just some of the challenges that face patient education. So I want #RNchat to talk about ideas and ways we can solve these challenges. For example, Information Shareapy is a new website created by the Connecting Nurses initiative to help nurses share patient education resources. It is a community only for nurses, that allows us to share resources globally. Could this be a way we address some of these challenges?
Patient education can improve outcomes, reduce stress and enable patients as well as their care givers to be empowered. We need to do more than have libraries where patients could go. As nurses we need to emphasize patient education and find ways to integrate it into our care and continually improve our efforts.