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How to Develop More Effective Patient Education Materials

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When a patient receives a vaccine, new medication or diagnosis, they may receive a flyer or pamphlet about their situation. Unfortunately, this collateral is often forgotten in a drawer or thrown in the garbage. As technology advances, patients deserve to receive patient educational materials in better, more meaningful ways.

Understanding healthcare is just as important as understanding math, English, or any other subject we learn throughout our lives, if not more. Health literacy can take some of the confusion and anxiety out of going to the doctor. Many people don’t understand the intricacies of the healthcare world, but there are many reasons they should.

People who have higher rates of health literacy are more likely to take advantage of preventative measures, like diagnostic tests or vaccines, and can have better health outcomes. Those with lower rates, on the other hand, are more likely to be hospitalized and in poor health.

Improving Health Literacy

One of the best ways to improve health literacy is to develop effective patient education strategies that provide clear, valuable and relevant information. Whether that’s concise written collateral, educational videos or easy-to-follow diagrams, developing patient education materials that are accessible helps patients more fully understand their care plan.

Review your existing patient materials. Do they have images and infographics that further explain clinical concepts? Is the informational copy translated into multiple languages? Are the materials formatted simply and clearly, drawing attention to the most important information? Do they use simple language, rather than medical jargon?

These questions are a great place to start. Once you can answer “yes” to each of those questions, you can focus on the delivery of this information. For example, try to involve family and friends in your effective patient education strategies. Healthcare and healing are often a team effort, so by educating a patient’s family and friends, you can increase their chances of understanding and adhering to their care plan.

Another great way to improve health literacy is to leverage technology. You can offer digital resources or easily choose and customize patient education materials. Developing patient education materials that are individualized helps patients feel seen and heard.

However, technology can’t replace in-person efforts. Healthcare providers still need to sit down with patients and explain their diagnoses, medicines or any other new information as well as answer questions.

Educating Through Psychographic Segmentation

While the above tips are crucial, everyone learns in different ways. Just because some patients prefer video lessons, for example, doesn’t mean they will work for every patient. Therefore, providers benefit from understanding consumers on a more personal level.   

Psychographic segmentation provides this insight. The proprietary model classifies healthcare consumers into one of five groups based on their lifestyle, values and preferences. In turn, providers learn which educational materials their patients like, what messaging they’re most likely to respond to and which channels they’re most likely to engage with.

Balance Seekers, for example, need lots of options and concrete evidence. They prefer to choose for themselves how success looks in their healthcare. While they value their doctor’s opinion, they don’t consider them the end-all, be-all resource. By developing patient education materials with strong data behind it, you can help Balance Seekers make the best decisions for their care.

Direction Takers, on the other hand, need to know how to fit healthcare into their everyday lives. Unlike Balance Seekers, Direction Takers are much more likely to trust what their healthcare providers say and recommend automatically. In fact, by providing them an explicit checklist of things they need to do, you will set them up for success.

Priority Jugglers need to know you understand their situation. They are busy people who will prioritize their family’s health over their own. By appealing to their sense of commitment, you can increase the likelihood that they’ll follow your recommendations. Show them that you understand how important their family is, but that they must take care of themselves to best care for their families.

Willful Endurers need immediate results. These are difficult to find in healthcare, but try to showcase benefits that they can see today. For example, send them an educational email explaining how getting a flu vaccine is quick, easy and reduces their chances of catching the illness—and they can schedule an appointment today. Willful Endurers also tend to emphasize pleasure in the moment over their long-term health, whether that’s overeating, drinking heavily or smoking. To best appeal to them, validate the work they’ve done to this point and work through the care plan one step at a time, rather than all at once.

Finally, Self Achievers need measurable goals. They are particularly committed to their health, so by giving them information and times to check-in on their progress, you can work with them to achieve their goals. Chances are your Self Achiever patients are already well literate when it comes to their health and will be ready to absorb any additional information you provide.

Acknowledging your patient’s wants and needs is essential to improving health literacy, closing gaps in care and improving health outcomes. Psychographic segmentation and PatientBond’s digital engagement platform help providers empower patients with information and guide them toward happier, healthier lives.

For more on psychographic segmentation and its relationship to health outcomes, download our case study.

How Psychographic Segmentation & Digital Engagement Improve Health Outcomes

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