What is Patient Education Today? – The Patient Educators Update Ep 1


bjbjqPqP Chuck: Welcome to the Patient Educators
Update. We focus on patient educators and patient education conflicts in a clinical
environment. Welcome to our very first show, and our very first guest is Fran London. Hi
Fran. Fran: Chuck: Fran London is the Health Education Specialist for Phoenix Children’s
Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. She has published dozens of articles and two books on patient
education, including “No Time To Teach: The Essence of Patient and Family Education For
Health Care Providers.” This book was awarded the 2010 Book of the Year Award by the American
Journal of Nursing. So, Fran, it stands to reason that since you wrote the book on patient
education, you should be our very first guest. Fran: Well, thank you. Chuck: You and I have
been communicating back and forth about patient education for more than a year now, I think.
I think we started on Twitter. Fran: Yeah. Chuck: And then I started reading your blog
and we were going back and forth. Early on, you seemed to be the only person out there
that really was waving the flag for patient education, and I find your book, “No Time
To Teach,” incredibly interesting. Since I’m not a patient educator, but I deal in the
business a little bit, I found it very helpful to read the book and get a better understanding
of really what’s involved. So with that, it leads up to my first question. Could you describe
for the audience what patient education is today? Fran: Well, it’s really pretty simple.
It’s basically health care providers have to instruct patients in how to take care of
themselves because we don’t do it all. Chuck: Yeah, yeah. I would imagine that there’s a
difference in hospital stays and things of that nature now, say, versus 10 years ago.
Fran: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Patient education has become more important because people stayed
in the hospital longer. There was a lot more time to teach. Right now, clinic appointments
are down to 15 minutes. We really have no time to teach. Chuck: Yeah, that’s pretty
amazing how everything has gotten compressed so much. Well, with that as a backdrop where
it’s now more important, but you just said that clinical appointments were down to about
15 minutes apiece. What kind of obstacles did that put in the way for nurses and patient
educators? Fran: Well, there’s the problem of attention. Just if you only have a limited
amount of time and people are thinking about other things like, “How do I get home?” and,
“How do I pay for this?” You just don’t have their attention in the short time that you
do have. Chuck: Yeah, that reminds me of a story. My next door neighbor had bypass surgery
late last year, and I went up to visit him and his wife several times while he was in
the hospital. I also saw him within a day or two of them coming home. I asked them how
they felt about their stay and what they had learned while they were there and what they
had to do now that they were home. It was interesting. His comment was when the doctor
was there for discharge, that was really the first time anybody had talked to them about
what they were supposed to do. He said, “All I cared about was just getting out of that
dang hospital because I’d been in there so long.” He says, “All I kind of heard from
him was ‘blah, blah, blah, blah.’ I didn’t pay attention.” So I asked his wife, Jan,
I said, “Well, Jan how about you? Did you get a chance to talk with the doctor and understand
what you’re supposed to do?” She said, “Well, yeah he talked to us, but I was just so worried
about what I was going to do when we got home and how I was going to take care of him, I
didn’t really pay much attention. They gave us a couple of sheets of paper, and out we
went. So we’re just kind of doing the best we can right now.” I would imagine that’s
probably not too far from the way the reality is out there with a lot of patients. Fran:
I hear that story over and over again. That is so typical, and it’s so sad because we
can do so much more. Chuck: What would be some of the recommendations that you might
have for nurses that want to be superstar patient educators? What should they be doing?
Fran: Well, the first thing is everybody learns in nursing school, and we really have to start
applying, is to start teaching at the time of admission. If you wait until the last minute,
it’s even harder to get anybody’s attention. Chuck: Sure. That makes sense. Fran: So it
should be continual. Every time you have an interaction, you teach about something and
then you reinforce it. So that gives you a lot more time. Chuck: Yeah, that makes sense.
Then you can kind of build your story as time goes on. What about the role of the family
caregiver? Is that more important today, especially with education? Fran: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Especially because patients are in pain or they have medications that make it hard for
them to hear and concentrate. You have to depend on the family to get some of the information.
Chuck: As you know, the company that I worked for sells video on demand systems for patient
education. One of the common obstacles that we run into with hospitals is that they don’t
value education very much. They say, “No, we can handle it with a handout or whatever.”
We hear that a lot. So what do you say to that? Fran: I think the more ways you have
to get the information to the patient, the more likely you are to get them to understand
and to be able to apply it. So you need lots of different ways. Chuck: Yeah. Is there any
research that is coming along in this that would help a hospital better understand what
the potential is? Fran: Oh, absolutely. The research in patient education is amazing in
that the results are very consistent. They always come out with the same findings, which
is primarily that the more you involve a learner in the process, the more you have interactions
with them, and the more individualized you are in your approach, the more you give them
information in ways they can understand, the better the outcome, the better they understand,
the better they can apply the information and change their health outcomes. Chuck: Okay.
That makes sense, and that also sounds like something that e should talk about in a future
episode, dig into some of that research. I think that might be helpful for some of the
folks that are listening and watching. So with that, I think we’ve gone a little bit
over our normal planned time limit. So we’ll go ahead and end this episode today. I want
to thank you for your time today. For those of you out there, if you want to keep up with
Fran, she has a blog. It is at NoTimeToTeach.com, and you can also follow her on Twitter. She
is @NoTimeToTeach. We’ll put information and links in the show notes so people can follow.
Then, also importantly, you can still find Fran’s book out there. It’s available in both,
as they say, dead tree form and e-book form, and you can find that wherever books are sold,
on Amazon, and also through her publisher at p.h.com. I believe if you go direct to
the publisher, if you have a quantity purchase that you want to make, there’s a pretty significant
discount for hospitals that may want to purchase in quantity. Is that correct? Fran: Yes, thank
you. Chuck: Okay, cool. Okay, Fran. Thanks very much. I appreciate your time today, and
we’ll catch up with you next week. Fran: Okay. Thank you. Chuck: Okay, you bet. The Patient
Educators Update is brought to you today by Synergy Broadcast Systems and MMDS, our video
on demand inpatient education system for hospitals and medical centers. Education to help patients
and their families better prepare for successful home health care after leaving the hospital.
Fran, thanks very much. We’ll see you next time. Fran: Okay, bye. Chuck: Bye-bye. gdC*
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