The Struggles for Patients to Complete Their Education

Patti Lael |
March 14, 2019

Not fully completing patient education reduces patients’ understanding of their disease process, procedures or what is expected of them to participate in their care. The repercussions of patients not understanding their health and healthcare needs can be costly and devasting. Patients can see rapid declines in health from not understanding the need for certain medications or how to take care of a health condition. The healthcare system will have a financial impact from preventable readmissions or multiple visits to an emergency room. The lack of education completion is detrimental to patients and the healthcare system overall. 

I watched my mom struggle in the hospital with her patient education. She was literate, but not health literate, so she struggled to understand the level of information presented to her. This caused her to stop listening or become annoyed and shut down when education was presented. The situation then stream-rolled causing delays in her healthcare decision making and over-dependence on me for information and decision making. The process became very daunting for her and I wished she would have gotten the value of her education and gained the independence of being a decision-maker in her own care.

Patients have all different kinds of reasons why they cannot complete their health education. Interactive engagement solutions can help with many of these barriers.

Literacy & Language Barriers

Patient barriers to completion can be associated with basic literacy. Some patients may not be able to even read the education title they have been assigned or the questions after the title. This causes frustration and dissatisfaction with the education process and staff. A patient’s preferred language can also be a barrier to education completion.

Interactive video education benefits the patient and family. Video education is easier to understand and more impactful than text-only materials. The healthcare system and SONIFI Health staff carefully select videos to meet the needs of the patient population. With SONIFI Health’s solution, education is always available when patients are able and willing to receive it. Patients and families may watch the education multiple times if needed. This allows patients and families to have some control of the education and how they view it.  

For patients who are illiterate, voice commands can help the patient with assigned education and encourage education completion. Voice control of the interactive system allows patients to play their education using simple vocal commands. This also allows the patient the privacy to watch and listen to the education without highlighting literacy struggles that may be an embarrassment to the patient. Even when voice commands are used, staff are still notified when the patient finishes viewing materials and is ready for reinforcement of the education. 

The SONIFI Health solution is multilingual and can change languages according to what is needed. The patient and family can benefit from selecting their preferred language to use and navigate the system and also have options to view education content in an alternate language when it is available. 

Health Literacy Barriers

The other literacy barrier is health literacy and the level of health understanding of the patient. Some patients know very little about their healthcare while others are very informed and become bored with repeat information.

The SONIFI Health system helps patients by offering assessments to determine where a patient’s literacy or health literacy level is at.  The determination of appropriate levels of education can help with patient understanding and teach back by the staff, so the patient will get the most out of the offered education.  

Anxiety & Discomfort Barriers

I learned from the experiences I have had as a patient, and as a family member of a patient, that education barriers can cause distress and anxiety. Sometimes just being in the hospital is uncomfortable and a barrier to learning.

Patients who are fearful and anxious may feel their education is overwhelming and not easy to navigate. These patients need soft encouragement. The interactive television solution can gently prompt patients to remind them to continue their education. These prompts do not require patients to stop viewing or enjoying distraction content. It simply provides a reminder that may reach them in a moment when they feel up to learning.

Patients using medication for pain or for surgery may not be able to comprehend the education and may need to have the education repeated at different times. The SONIFI Health solution helps accommodate this need by allowing videos to be played as many times as necessary. SONIFI Health’s continuum of care, also allows pre and post admission viewing of education. This allows patients who are preparing for a surgery or procedure to watch the videos before they face some of those inpatient barriers. Post-discharge education viewing can be used for the reinforcement of the education provided in the hospital. Patients are given large amounts of information at discharge and to have the education to refer to for a period after discharge can be very valuable and allow the patient to learn at their own pace. This helps with patient barriers in the acute setting.

Patients face lots of barriers to education completion and understanding. SONIFI Health can help healthcare systems educate patients in a way that may be more valuable and useful to the patient.

Author: Patti Lael

Clinical Education Specialist, RN, BSN, CCRN-K, CPXP Patti Lael from our clinical staff has a wealth of on-floor knowledge as well as patient advocacy experience and creative strategies for maximizing reimbursements.