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4 Reasons Why Patient Education is So Important

Health literacy is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as the ability to “find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions.” This skill, absolutely essential for long term health and well-being, illustrates the importance of patient education tailored to specific populations. While patient education can seem like a time-consuming item on already overwhelmed primary care providers’ to do lists, the benefits of patient education make it impossible to ignore.

1. Impactful Preventative Care

Preventative primary care is powerful, reducing the risk of chronic disease and even death. Individuals, caretakers and families who understand the importance of preventative care prioritize these appointments, scheduling proactive measures like well visits, screenings and vaccinations. At these appointments, patient education can help explain the benefits of nutrition, exercise and other ways to maintain health. These appointments also allow for early detection and intervention of chronic disease which leads to better outcomes in many cases.

2. Effective Chronic Disease Management

The importance of patient education is again apparent in the at-home management of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. When patients are knowledgeable about their condition(s) and treatment(s), their increased self-efficacy (defined in medicine as the “confidence to deal with disease-related problems” and synonymous with empowerment, control and belief in one’s abilities) improves outcomes. Education also encourages active engagement in disease management. Together, these factors contribute to increased patient compliance with prescribed and otherwise recommended treatment, improving the benefits of these treatments.

3. Fewer Hospital Readmissions

Many procedures, even those of a routine nature, come with specific pre- and post-procedure instructions. Accessing, understanding and applying these instructions is dependent on health literacy and patient education. Yet, proper at home care, especially after surgery, is essential for avoiding readmission for complications and infections.

Informed patients also know when additional care may be required and where to go to receive that care, including the hospital and various outpatient care options.

4. Better Patient Experience

The benefits of patient education extend beyond the prevention and treatment of health issues. Educating patients also improves the patient experience. Knowledgeable individuals and caregivers have reduced healthcare-related stress. Proper education helps manage expectations around side effects, recovery times and other important elements of procedures and diagnosis. Overall, educated patients are more satisfied with their care.