Creating an effective patient education program in your practice may seem time-consuming at first, but once in place, it can save you time and trouble. And you don't have to start from scratch—there are many materials available to get you started.
Patients quickly forget much of what physicians tell them. To overcome this problem, give patients written explanations of their conditions and treatments.
When choosing printed materials, consider the following:
Font styles and sizes
Choose materials with a large-enough font for people with visual impairments to adequately see and read the information. Avoid materials with busy font styles, all capital letters or italics.
Use of illustrations and images
Use illustrations to complement text descriptions. This helps patients understand what’s happening to their eyes.
Use of color
Choose materials with good contrast and color combinations. Dark text on light backgrounds (black on white) is easier to read than light text on dark backgrounds (white on black).
Tone and clarity
Use materials that present information in a clear and understandable manner using a pleasant, friendly and respectful tone.
Almost 50% of all American adults have trouble understanding information written above the 8th-grade reading level. Choose materials written in plain language, familiar words and short sentences.
Video and Animation
- Video is the most comprehensive way prospective patients can preview the surgical experience.
- Viewing videos can help to alleviate a patient’s misconceptions, concerns and inhibitions.
The most effective patient education videos include:
- easy-to-understand language;
- clear animation that explains anatomy, conditions and procedures; and
- informed consent information regarding the benefits and risks of the procedures.
Video is often more effective than written patient education materials at increasing short-term retention of information. Showing video, followed by brief individual counseling, can save physicians time without sacrificing knowledge when compared with prolonged individual counseling.
Short animations can help clarify specific points for your patients during individual counseling, or can be an effective addition to your website’s educational offerings.
Video should be used as a supplemental part of your patient education process. Even the most well-produced videos and animations will not be effective educational tools if your patients do not have the opportunity to discuss the content with you and ask questions.
Obtaining Informed Consent
According to the Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company, informed consent encompasses every piece of educational material your patient receives from your practice, including verbal descriptions and instructions, marketing materials, patient handouts, videos, etc. Signing the consent form is the last step in the consent process.
Before allowing your patient to sign the consent form, you should have adequately described to your patient:
- steps of the procedure;
- benefits of the procedure;
- risks and complications involved; and
- alternative treatments.
Resources for Your Patients
Your patients are going to research their condition or treatment online, whether you suggest that they do or not. Provide them with links to websites you trust.
- The EyeSmart® website, developed by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, empowers people to take charge of their eye health. EyeSmart emphasizes the need for everyone to know their risk factors for eye diseases, infections and injuries, and the role ophthalmologists play in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions. Presented in both English and Spanish.
- EyeCare America is a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Their mission is to reduce avoidable blindness and severe visual impairment by raising awareness about eye disease and care, providing free eye health educational materials and facilitating access to medical eye care.
- The National Eye Institute site, produced in conjunction with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is devoted specifically to eye care. Includes a patient information library, photos and illustrations, low-vision information, news and events, clinical studies and current research, and patient information in Spanish.