In this episode, you’ll learn
- a quick way you can increase the chances you’re assessing what matters when it comes to patient education.
- sample questions you can ask yourself and your next patient
- some exciting news about your use of medical metaphors!
Hi this is 10 minutes to better patient communication. I’m Dr. Anne Marie Liebel.
First, I want to say Thank you! in a short number of weeks with just 10 episodes, we crossed a 1000 downloads for this series! whatever you’re doing is working, I hope what I’m doing is working. Please keep telling the people in your life.
In this episode, you’ll learn a quick way you can increase the chances you’re assessing what matters when it comes to patient education.
Complete with sample questions you can ask yourself and your next patient.
Oh and if you use metaphors to explain things to your patients, I’ve got something cool for you at the end of the episode. So Let’s get to it
A few months back, I started a series called 5 steps to improve your patient education. I promised to take a closer look at each of those 5 steps. So far I’ve written about
Today is about assessment. Because For good or not, healthcare is being driven by business models and productivity metrics.
Many argue that increased accountability measures have taken time away from improving the quality of care—and to questionable ends. A CMS administrator recently commented that:
“We all know it: Clinicians and hospitals have to report an array of measures to different payers. There are many steps involved in submitting them, taking time away from patients. Moreover, it’s not clear whether all of these measures are actually improving patient care.”
Similarly, A recent op-ed piece pointed out how the metrics may not even be helping the patients they are (ostensibly) intended to benefit:
“[C]onsider a patient thinking about knee replacement surgery. By looking hard enough, he or she could probably find out how often a facility’s patients get antibiotics before surgery, contract infections from surgery, or return to the hospital due to complications after surgery. But he or she is highly unlikely to discover whether those patients walk better a year later.”
Against this backdrop of mandated metrics and quality measures, you are still educating patients. You are trying to make good things happen.
And you keep track of how well you are doing in that regard. I know this from the physicians I talk to. They notice when their patient education does not stick.
I’m here to give you support so you can increase the chances that you have the impact you got into this profession to have.
Part of this means being able to meaningfully assess yourself, and your patient, in the teaching and learning process.
meaningful evaluation is possible. And it can give you and your patient the feedback you need to make the most of your time together.
I want to share some things with you I have learned over the years that have helped me in working on assessment & evaluation.
We evaluate and are evaluated in many ways, and for many reasons. If you think about it, the purposes of evaluation and assessment can be boiled down to this:
When we evaluate, we want to know something about the past, the present, and/or the future.
Put another way, we assess to learn what has happened, what is happening right now, and/or what the next steps might, could, or should be.
This part is easy enough. It gets complicated from here.
I was many years into my career as an educator before I heard this one phrase that helped change my approach to evaluation: consider the act of evaluation as an indication of what is valued.
That is, we design evaluations and interpret their results according to what we value.
Yet it seems value is a word we’re hearing a lot these days in healthcare. That leads me to wonder, What kind of value? Value to whom?
This ambiguity is a problem for assessment too.
What’s more, large-scale assessments tend to grab data on what’s easy to assess–which may or may not be what’s valuable to know. Like the earlier example about the knee replacement. The targets were set, the data was gathered, analyzed, and made available. but it was not directly applicable to what was most valuable to the patient—being able to walk better.
Are you measuring what’s really valued by you and your patient?
To answer that question, I’m going to ask you think about your goals in a given patient education encounter.
Your goals are a statement of what you value. What you are willing to use your time and effort in order to help bring about.
What it is you’re really after.
Here are three variations on a question you can ask to get some clarity on your primary patient education goal:
- What are you hoping this person will learn in their time with you today?
- What do you want this patient to be thinking about after your interaction is over?
- What do you want your patient to be able to do, or understand—better, or more often than they do now?
Asking these questions helps your goal for the encounter to be clear to you. But what are your patient’s goals for this educational encounter?
What does your patient value?
Learning someone’s goals isn’t a ‘one and done.’ It’s a process that can benefit from multiple kinds of questions. Here are variations on a question you can ask to understand more about your patient’s goals. And I’ll tell you why in a minute.
After making a statement like, “Today we’re doing x, y and z.” you could ask
- What parts of this are you most interested in learning about today?
- Which parts of this matter most to you?
- Which parts of this are you most concerned about?
- What would you like to know more about?
Whatever kind of education you’ve planned, make room for your patient’s goals.
You educate a patient with many goals in mind. And you are, formally or informally, assessing how you do. Part of this involves assessing your patient.
So how do you make it more likely you’re evaluating what you and your patient value?
Attach your assessments to your goals.
That’s why I’ve spent so much time talking about getting clear on your goals. Goals are statements of what you value, what you’re willing to put your time and energy and resources toward. your material or your content are a means for reaching the goal, but they are not the goal.
So rather than, say, quizzing patients on the material, return to your goals. Yours, and your patient’s. So you can Make your measurement count.
I’m inviting you to be conscious of what and how you’re teaching, what impact you’re hoping your patient education will have, and how the records you’re keeping reflect this.
So I’ll close with some thoughts about how these processes and outcomes can be measured.
Because you know, and research has shown, that some of those metrics measure processes and outcomes that seem to be important, but turn out not to be. Then, some important factors never seem to make it into the metrics.
But thankfully, communication through patient education is one of those important processes that has been recognized in multiple types of quality measures.
There are many ways to measure progress toward a goal. This is good news, because people and their goals will vary. Here’s some ways you can keep track of your patient education metrics:
- In terms of your patient’s goals, you might ask one question: “What progress have we made toward your goal?” Then you can note what they say, and if you’re so inclined, look for patterns across patients.
- In terms of your educational goals, if there were only 1 or 2 things you could get specific feedback on, from your patient, what would it/they be? Keep it do-able: The idea is to identify something specific so you can track changes in your patient education efforts over time
And remember, the focus is: Are you measuring what’s really important to you and to your patient? Think in terms of, “I want to do something about this.” Reflective practice can help you identify (and share) those processes which you are finding lead to positive outcomes that matter to you and your patients.
Hey do you use metaphors to explain things to your patients? Of course you do. Now I know my approach is not for everybody, but If you like hard-hitting research and no nonsense strategies, I will help you improve your medical metaphors.
Because of the response to the podcast and a few articles I’d written, I created an on-demand workshop just for providers. Because metaphors are powerful combinations of logic and emotion. Scores of studies show that the metaphors you use matter to your patients.
So I have an on demand workshop, you can take it whenever you like, chock full of examples and step-by-step ways to break down your metaphors. And research galore because you know me.
And for a very limited time it’s at a low price. Because it’s new and I want your feedback.
Check it out on health communication partners.com. This has been 10 minutes to better patient communication. I’m Dr. Anne Marie Liebel.