The Importance and Implementation of Patient Education

Patient education is important with an abundance of options to increase compliance. In this article we will discuss options for patients and health care professionals to improve patient education.

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The Importance and Implementation of Patient Education

Patient education is influencing a change in the patient's knowledge, habits and attitudes, and observing a change in their behavior. Patient education is crucial because it builds rapport and trust between the provider and the patient while encouraging them to take the initiative with their own health. It also allows the patient a sense of inclusion and independency when making decisions about their health care, called self-efficacy.

Before the Appointment

As a patient, writing down a list of questions to ask will improve your care. Alternatively, writing commonly asked questions as a provider will help answer all the patient's questions and build rapport.

Questions to ask/ be answered

  1. What is the diagnosis?
  2. How can I prevent it from getting worse, recurring, or coming back?
  3. What is the plan?
  4. Will you walk me through my options?
  5. Why do I need this treatment/ test/ procedure?
  6. What is the likely outcome that it works?
  7. What is the test for? How do I prepare?
  8. What is the procedure? How do I prepare?
  9. When will I receive my results?
  10. Do I need an appointment to receive these results?
  11. Do I call or will someone call me?
  12. Can I have information on the medication/ test/ procedure?
  13. What are the side effects?
  14. Can I take this medication with all my current medications?

Another option is to use the Question Builder. This app is easy to download. You can create or select pre-written questions to ask. Once you have your questions, you can attach them to an appointment in your calendar or send them to your email.

Implementing Patient Education

Make a plan and set aside time

Provide enough time for you and the patient to discuss the topic(s) so the patient doesn't feel rushed. This will also build trust or rapport.

Clearly communicate the material

Don't overload the patient with an abundance of new information and medical jargon. Scale down the information and provide a translator if applicable. There are many apps or numbers to call that can help a patient learn how to do a new task while in the comforts of their home, such as:

  • Orthopedic Patient Education
  • Stanford Medicine's My Action Planner
  • Apple Health
  • Ella's Hand Washing Adventure
  • MySugr Diabetes Logbook
  • Visual Anatomy
  • Pregnancy+
  • FollowMyHealth
  • Mango Health
  • ... and the list goes on, like the Energizer Bunny

Be aware of different cultures, customs, and beliefs

Respectfully ask about their health beliefs or customs and make a note in their chart for future reference. Or you may utilize one of the following websites:

  • EthnoMed
  • Culture Clues
  • Culture, Language
  • Health Literacy

Use health education material

Having a handout for reference will help the patient stay consistent with the plan. Try not to cluster too much information together. Make the font big and flashy with lots of pictures to illustrate the tasks.

Take notes

Patients should bring paper to write down any information not given in the hand-out. Likewise, the provider should write down the patient's questions for future reference.

Teach-Back method

Let the patient teach you, a friend, or family member, the material and information they just learned. This will help with active recall.

Encourage the patient to ask questions during or after the visit.


Make it a point to contact the patient at a later date to reinforce the plan. This will promote a healthy relationship with patients, their own health care, and the provider.

Always encourage feedback for improvement.

Proper education is crucial for the patient to learn about their own conditions so they may confidently tackle their treatments, plans, and medication in the hospital and at home. The more a patient understands their disease, the more likely a patient will comply with the necessary regimens.


Improving health outcomes through patient education and partnerships with patients: National Center for Biotechnology Information: National Library of Medicine

Patient Education: American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)

Patient Engagement and Education: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Hi! I'm Madison. I am a Registered Nurse with experience in emergency medicine, gastroenterology, and as a circulator. I am currently getting my DNP. I always enjoyed my writing assignments during school, so I've decided to carry it over to my passion. Thank you for reading, and have a great day!

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