Patient Education: A Call To Action

Arguably one of the biggest motivators behind the Duet Health model has been to achieve one thing: patient education.

“There are a couple of changes that are happening that are forcing big health organizations and everybody to have to educate patients like they’ve never done before,” said Jeff Harper, CEO of Duet Health. “Nobody could’ve predicted that there would be this much emphasis on education, there never has been in the past.”

The idea that patient education is important is not a new one.

An article by Kristie Jernigan for General Medicine at stresses the importance of patient education says “patient education benefits the patients, health care community, insurance companies and taxpayers. Making a patient knowledgeable gives them the power to succeed.”

The article also outlines the tangible benefits of patient education. Not only do patients benefit with “the result of better health and an improved understanding of how they need to live to continue to have good health,” Jernigan points out that “the medical staff, health care facilities and insurance companies also benefit by having a reduced number of unnecessary hospitalizations and ER visits.

That fact ultimately impacts and benefits all taxpayers (state and federal).”

Patient education benefits taxpayers. Seems like all the reason one would need to buy into the idea, right?

Another article written by George L. Spaeth, MD, FACS, in September, 2011 dives deeper into the issue, saying “a doctor is first and foremost an educator,” and that “while there are thousands of volumes written on patient education, very few of them have any impact on patient behavior.”

Why is that? We’ve already established that patient education is wildly important. Why is there this gap between the importance of patient education and the actual process of educating a patient?

Two of the big changes happening in health care are the creation of “accountable care organizations,” and “meaningful use.”

“You have to educate patients in a meaningful way towards their course of care,” said Harper.

These implementations are a start towards better patient education, but the question is how. Spaeth raises the question, how do physicians, already pressed for time, go about doing that?

Harper thinks Duet Health may be the solution to providing better patient education.

“If (for example) you were pregnant, doctors used to hand you a booklet and say hey, here’s what’s wrong with you, we’ll walk you through it. It’s jam-packed with information for you on what happens during pregnancy,” said Harper. “Now with Duet Health, your doctor can hand you a sheet of paper and say just download the app.”

Harper realizes the process of implementing Duet Health into a doctor’s everyday practice won’t be easy.

“Moving from a booklet to a sheet of paper to you and I seems simple, to them it’s a total paradigm change in how they do business,” he said.

While the process might not be easy, Harper knows the benefits of having a better educational system in place for patients outweighs the struggles.

“We know how vital what we’re going to do is to the overall health and wellness of people,“ he said.

In the meantime though, we at Duet Health want to hear from our readers.

  • What types of educational materials do you provide for your patients?
  • How do you go about the process of educating your patients?
  • What do you think could be done to improve this process?
  • Do you think Duet Health would be a valuable addition to your practice?

Tweet us your thought at @duethealth!