- Elicit symptoms and understanding from the patient
- Be aware of when teaching new concepts and ensure understanding
- Eliminate jargon
- System-level support using technology
- Provide more robust health education vehicles to help the patient remember
- Be proactive during time between visits
* Schillinger interview
Dr. Dean Schillinger, Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco, offered these teaching tips in an interview with Dr. Robert Wachter. Dr. Schillinger, who has studied health literacy while practicing at this safety-net hospital in San Francisco, suggests that as health care professionals, we should first elicit the patient's understanding of the disease or condition rather than telling the patient about it. Once you recognize that the patient needs more or better information to understand his or her disease or condition, be aware that these concepts may be new to the patient and try to ensure that the patient really understands. A key point in promoting understanding is to use words the patient will understand and to avoid medical jargon.
Dr. Schillinger also suggests that there are system-level interventions that can make health education a more robust, effective process. Examples include using technology to reinforce teachings to promote patient understanding and retention. Such technology might also be useful in between in-person visits, particularly with patients who are computer literate and can access applications from home.