Patient Teaching Tool
Patient education, also referred to as patient teaching, is described as an active process that is built on mutual trust and respect for the purposes of fostering a partnership between the health professional and the patient (Falvo, 2010). Patient education is also defined as an organized, structured program that serves as a vehicle utilized by the health practitioners to provide patients with information that would facilitate their learning (Falvo, 2010). Patient teaching is a key tool in ensuring that the patients gain valuable knowledge, skills and a positive attitude so they can be in control of managing and improving their own health conditions. Over the recent years, I have utilized patient education as part and parcel of the diabetes management procedure for most of my diabetic patients. This patient education tool primarily focuses on demonstration of the insulin injection procedures that patients need to adhere as part of managing diabetes. Insulin injection is a common practice for diabetic patients as through the injection, insulin is delivered into the subcutaneous tissue to boost the appropriate amount of blood sugar needed in the body. The teaching tool that I am most proficient and familiar with can be found in the following online sites;
The main characteristics of the patient population utilizing the insulin injection teaching tool are: the elderly, who are past 65 years of age; most of them come from poverty ridden areas; they are low income earners and they are not well-versed with the current technology. Three quarters of the patient population are Hispanic and African American where as the rest of the patient population is White. One of the ways by which I educate my patients to inject themselves with insulin is through a video routine where I showcase the necessary procedures to a successful insulin injection. However, this method has proved to be ineffective since most of my patients are elderly and technology illiterate. On the other hand, some are unable to access the necessary equipment such as iPad and phones which are vital for the patients to be able to watch the video routine.
Even though the insulin injection education had proved to be effective in the younger age groups, it has not been the most effective tool for the majority of the elderly diabetic population. According to Dickens & Piano (2013), a vast majority of the population who are 65 years and older, are affected by low health literacy. Moreover, although the majority of this population are insured under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) they are still unable to make informed health care decisions as they lack the necessary knowledge, information and skills (Schwartzberg, Van Geest& Wang, 2005). In addition, this group of elderly people are characterized by low socioeconomic status and limited education inclusive of being technology illiterate, which contributes to their poor health literacy skills (DeWalt et al., 2004). Most of these patients are unable to comprehend simple basic health information thereby being unable to make better and informed health choices. To add to this, the poor health literacy of the diabetic elderly population has been worsened by the fact that most of them have not gone through a complete education system. This means that a large percentage of the elderly populations are uneducated and thereby unable to read, write, listen or interpret information in an appropriate manner. It is with this profound reason that the regular patient education tool remains ineffective to most of the elderly patients who eventually end up with deteriorating health status.
In other instances, some elderly patients have difficulties in responding to questions asked by the medical practitioners. This negatively affects proper communication and makes the patient education tool ineffective. The efforts made by the medical practitioner in teaching their patients ends up being in vain (DeWalt et al., 2004). According to Dickens & Piano(2013), most studies suggest that the Hispanic and African American elderly population are mostly affected by poor health literacy as most live below the average income levels and others are generally illiterate.
In order for a patient education tool to be effective, Dickens & Piano(2013) suggest the need for medical practitioners to treat each patient as having low health literacy levels. Furthermore, Howard Koh suggests the need for health care providers to incorporate the new health care model known as the Health Literate Care Model with the AHRQ’s tool kit (Dickens & Piano, 2013). In addition, it is important for the medical practitioners to adapt to oral communication as opposed to using too much print materials (Falvo, 2010). This is solely to encourage an interaction between the patient and the medical practitioner. Both parties will also be able to keenly listen and understand each other through face to face communication, which also allows the health care provider to interpret the nonverbal cues expressed by the patient (Schwartzberg et al., 2005). Therefore, even though a vast majority of the elderly population is regarded to have low health literacy levels, it is still possible for the medical practitioner to incorporate an array of skills that would enhance the effectiveness of the patient education tool.
Dickens, C., & Piano, M. R. (2013). Health literacy and nursing: An update. The American Journal of Nursing, 113(6), 52-57.
DeWalt, D. A., Berkman, N. D., Sheridan, S., Lohr, K. N., & Pignone, M. P. (2004). Literacy and health outcomes. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 19(12), 1228-1239.
Falvo, D. R. (2010). Effective patient education: A guide to increased adherence. Burlington MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Schwartzberg, J. G., VanGeest, J., & Wang, C. (2005). Understanding health literacy: Implications for medicine and public health. Chicago, Ill.: American Medical Association.