Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Importance Of Using Patient Handouts

By Marissa Velazquez

Patient handouts are one of the most important tools of passing information to clients coming to a healthcare facility. Their use has been observed to increase in recent times due to the numerous advantages that are associated with them. If you are planning on starting to use handouts in your facility, you need to ensure that you acquire some information relating to their design, use and evaluation of their effectiveness. We will look at some of these aspects in this article.

Two types of handouts exist. One of the types is commercially available and contains pre-printed messages. The message may be directed to a non-specific audience or to a particular group. This type has the advantage of being readily available and not requiring much input in terms of labour. The second type is that which is custom made in a facility. The facility designs such materials depending on local requirements. The message is tailored based on the needs of that facility.

When developing your materials, make sure that the interests of the client are well taken care of. The objectives of the process must be clearly understood from the start. Some of the objectives that one may wish to be met include mass education, influencing behaviour change or emphasising on treatment compliance. All these are in turn aimed at improving service delivery to the client. The materials may also be used as a form of advertisement.

There are several factors that determine the type of design that is adopted. This applies for both the commercially available and the locally produced materials. For example materials that are meant for single use will be designed differently from those that are required for frequent reference. Sometimes, the healthcare provider is interested in feedback from the client and provisions for this have to be made. The demographic factors such as age, gender and income have to be taken into account as well.

The language and style chosen for this process should reflect the level of education of the targeted group. A research may be helpful in determining these levels. In the event that this cannot be done, the simplest language and style are chosen. This will ensure that a majority of the clients understand. The content should be accurate and up to date.

The language should be simple enough to be understood by virtually anybody. Medical jargon has to be avoided by all costs. If technical terms have to be used, they should be accompanied by corresponding definitions. Using a second person appears to communicate directly communicates to the reader. Using the active form of speech is also advised.

Using complex sentences leads to confusion to readers and should not be used. Short, simple sentences are better at delivering messages precisely. Words that have more than 3 syllables should be reduced or avoided altogether. The readability can be assessed by using a sample of clients and correcting any problems that arise.

Using patient handouts are a very important tool for educating different groups of clients. These tools ease the huge burden that is placed on the healthcare provider allowing them to concentrate on other issues. It is especially useful in implementing preventive medicine strategies.

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