• Improve Your Outreach With Patient Education

    We’ve all made a visit to the doctor. No matter the medical issue, whether we’re feeling under the weather or looking for health advice, one thing is for certain – we all depend on our GPs. We also depend on our clinics as a whole, and that means patients need to feel safe, supported and calm when they walk in – you and your staff are their first contact.

    Think patience, empathy, respect, compassion and reassurance. And now, add education to the mix. We know the ability to communicate effectively with our patients is first and foremost, so it’s important we share relevant information with them. Believe it or not, patient education is a key element in retention success.

    But what does it mean? What does the term ‘patient education’ really stand for? Let’s take a look.

    What Is Patient Education?

    There are two types of patient education. The first of which is based on a partnership between doctor and patient, whilst the second is formed between the clinic and the patient. A quick overview for you below shows:

    Doctor-Patient: It’s a physician’s duty to inform their patients how to achieve health and wellness, and in return, the patients have a responsibility to act on the information provided.

    Clinic-Patient: Medical clinics equip patients with the knowledge required for them to make informed choices about the clinic itself and guide them in developing a strong, lasting relationship with staff for a positive and rewarding experience.

    But Why Is It Needed?

    When patients understand the basic foundations of the medical clinic they’re attending, that equals better communication for both parties, and it allows for your clinic to make changes without impending negative feedback.

    Imagine this scenario. You walk into a shop, filled with busy staff filling shelves and talking to customers, while two dozen people wander around looking at the store’s products. But you have absolutely no understanding of what the products are – they look familiar, yet you don’t know what the objects are used for, how much they cost, why people want them, or what to do with them when you take one or two home. You’re left to figure things out all on your own because there aren’t any employees free to talk to you. You weren’t even sure if the shop would be open when you walked in, but you made your down there because you heard it was the ‘in’ thing opening in town.

    That’s what some patients might feel like when they walk into your clinic – especially new patients. They don’t know who your doctors are, what backgrounds they have…they may even be unsure of the exact times you’re open, like if you offer weekend or after hours accessibility.

    If your patients understand your practice by having all the relevant information they need, that will help them make the right decisions moving forward with their health and this in turn will mean your clinic will work smoothly in terms of policies, procedures and billing.

    Even new and incoming COVID-19 restrictions will be easier to communicate to patients.

    The Best Ways To Encourage Patient Education

    One of the best ways to provide patient education in the first instance is with traditional face-to-face contact. Encourage your staff to confidently talk to patients about any changes in the clinic and make sure the ‘why’ is answered when changes are questioned by clients.

    The majority of patients will be internet and social media savvy, but there is still a small number of people who don’t have access – this means all your bases must be covered, both with traditional media and non-traditional.

    Keeping this in mind though, two of your biggest assets when it comes to informing your patients will be your website and any apps that are designed specifically for your clinic. Remember that with some patients not being tech-savvy, keeping these two very easy on the eye and simple to find information is key. Websites and apps are completely self-serving, and clients will feel empowered they’ve been able to find information they’re looking for.

    Suggestions on how to keep all your patients informed on what’s happening in and around your clinic include:

    • Social media posts for instant information reach
    • A user-friendly, easy to follow website specifically designed for browsing; ensure not to utilise heavy data and keep it fast-loading with a lot of helpful links
    • An app that is downloadable on all devices and available via Apple and Android
    • Flyers and brochures for both long standing information regarding the clinic, and specified flyers and brochures for particular events, changes and special occasions
    • TV marketing and videos for in-clinic viewing on television screens in patient waiting rooms
    • Mobile phone texts to confirm appointments with added information on any restriction or billing changes
    • Education evenings for patients
    • Monthly email marketing newsletter with relevant information and link-backs to your practice website and social media platforms
    • Clinic blogs with minimum one blog per week to show patients your website is active and current

    Everything On Offer

    The type of resources that a patient responds to varies from person to person, so providing a variety of options for patients to choose from often works best. Check out the links here for information on a wide range of health topics.

    Don’t forget that in some cases, you might not have the right materials for a particular patient. That’s okay, don’t stress about it! If it’s a sensitive topic they need information about, take them aside and have a discussion in private with offers of either creating your own materials specifically for them or that you’ll source them from elsewhere.

    I’d love to hear what patient education resources and materials you have on offer for your clients, and what your future plans are to make sure everyone who walks into your clinic has all the information they need!