Jefferson's Hospitalwide Patient Education Program Continues a Critical
Support Role in Quality Care and Outcomes
Especially in today's healthcare climate, making sure our patients
receive quality care depends a lot on the quality of information and education
they receive before, during and after their stay as a patient.
Increasingly, staff are looking to the resources of Jefferson's patient
education program to help them with this important job. Helping patients
improve their health by conveying information and education about their
diagnoses and treatments is the program's prime goal.
The hospitalwide program is the responsibility of Joan Bretschneider, PhD,
RN, assistant nursing director for patient education, and Madeline Albanese,
manager, reporting to Mary Ann McGinley, RN, MSN, associate executive director
for patient services. The program crosses inpatient and outpatient settings
and fits in the whole spectrum of patient care and services.
Interdisciplinary Approach Is Key
Key to both the day-to-day operation of patient education and its overall
philosophy is a strong interdisciplinary approach. Dr. Bretschneider explains:
"The actual content of material we provide our patients is always developed
by staff clinical experts at Jefferson. Under the guidance and management
of Madeline Albanese, physicians, nurses, registered dietitians, physical
therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, home care specialists,
respiratory therapists, radiology staff, and others involved in the direct
patient care process all contribute."
"Our multifaceted approach insures that the material which patients
receive is the most credible possible," Ms. Albanese adds.
This interdisciplinary method is supported by the Joint Commiss-ion on Accreditation
of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), which provides standards to help measure
the effectiveness of hospital patient education programs.
Shorter Hospital Stays Mean Less Time to Reach Patients
Recent trends in health care, especially shorter hospital stays, mean the
program has a briefer time period to get information to patients. Accordingly,
the program has placed more emphasis on reaching patients before admission
and after discharge. Ms. Albanese explains:
"We try to focus on information patients can receive before they come
to the hospital so they can be prepared. This ranges from general information
about Jefferson and their hospitalization to what to expect from a particular
procedure and the care they will receive while in the hospital. Much of
this information can be provided in the physician's office."
"Likewise education must continue after patients leave the hospital,
so we collaborate with home care staff to extend the patient education process
into the home. Including patient education in critical pathways, such as
those for joint replacement and heart surgery, helps us meet the challenge
of teaching patients in briefer time periods."
Patients receive education materials about specific procedures, illnesses
or treatments and self-care. Formats range from brief one-page information
sheets to detailed care manuals and videos. All are produced with editorial
and graphics support from Jefferson's marketing department before being
printed by the Jefferson Printing Center.
The program has produced several videos in recent years, with "What
You Should Know About Heart Surgery" being the most recent. All were
produced with inhouse Jefferson resources.
The recent installation of a new hospital closed-circuit TV system for patients
will broaden the video exposure of patient education, Ms. Albanese points
Patient Education TV to Be Expanded
"Our current patient education channel will soon be expanded to four.
Currently only pre-scheduled education programs are available. Eventually,
patients will be able to use handheld remotes to view programs on demand.
These will range from topics of general health to specific diseases and
procedures," she explains.
Regardless of which medium is used for a particular patient education topic,
much planning goes into each project, Ms. Albanese points out. For example,
material is pre-tested with patients to see if content is being communicated
clearly, and sometimes focus groups are used to gauge the overall effectiveness
of the program. Each project is edited carefully for its readibility level.
Not to be overlooked, Ms. Albanese stresses, is the "image" value
of patient education. "While our primary goal is to help people improve
their health, we also promote Jefferson's image with our patients and the
public by the quality and usefulness of the material we provide."