Patient education

Copyright © 2006 Society of Hospital Medicine

The Institute of Medicine has defined patient centered care as one of the six aims for healthcare improvements in the 21st century. Patient centered care requires that physicians and members of multidisciplinary teams effectively inform, educate, reassure and empower patients and families to participate in the creation and implementation of a care plan. Patient safety initiatives focus on the role of patient education in improving the quality of care from the perspective of both patients and clinicians. Hospitalists can develop and promote strategies to improve patient education initiatives and foster greater patient and family involvement in health care decisions and management.


Hospitalists should be able to:

  • Describe the guiding principles for patient education.

  • Explain the factors that impact the success or failure of behavior change strategies.

  • Identify institutional resources for patient education materials and programs.

  • Summarize the evidence for the primacy of patient education as a means to improve the quality of health care.

  • Discuss the contextual factors that influence a patient's readiness to learn new information.

  • Describe the role of patient education in the management of chronic diseases, which may include diabetes, congestive heart failure, and asthma.

  • Explain how each patient's socio‐cultural background affects his or her health beliefs and behavior.

  • Identify barriers to implementation of patient education, including literacy levels and language fluency.

  • Determine the utility and appropriateness of patient education materials based on specific patient characteristics, which may include culture, literacy, cognitive ability, age, native language, and visual or other sensory impairments.


Hospitalists should be able to:

  • Identify and assist patients and families who require additional education about their medical illnesses.

  • Communicate effectively with patients from diverse backgrounds.

  • Formulate specific patient centered care plans that may include pain management; integration of psychiatric, social, and other support services; and discharge planning.

  • Describe different methods of delivering patient education and effectively apply this knowledge to the care of individual patients.

  • Utilize and/or develop methods and materials to fully inform patients and families.

  • Determine patient and family understanding of severity of illness, prognosis, and their role in determining the goals of care.

  • Provide patients with safety tips at the time of transfer of care, which may include instructions about medications, tests, procedures, alert symptoms to initiate a physician call, and follow‐up.


Hospitalists should be able to:

  • Recognize the potential for patient education to improve the quality of health care.

  • Encourage patients to ask questions, keep accurate medication lists and obtain test results.

  • Ensure that patients understand anticipated therapies, procedures and/or surgery.

  • Convey diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and support options available for patients and families in a clear, concise, compassionate, culturally sensitive and timely manner.

  • Provide or arrange for patient education materials and programs for patients with chronic diseases.

  • Advocate incorporation of patient wishes into care plans.

  • Appreciate patient education as a tool to improve the experience of clinical care for both patients and families.

  • Lead, coordinate or participate in the development of team‐based approaches to patient education.

  • Lead, coordinate or participate in the development of effective quality measures sensitive to the effects of patient education.

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