How Henry Ford Health’s care transformation initiative created a catalyst for consistency
A discussion on transforming patient education
Effective patient education and engagement strategies are critical to supporting patients across the care continuum and improving health outcomes.
As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, patients today are taking an active role and want more personalization in their care experience. As a result, patient education is an important element of a broader patient engagement strategy
Care transformation front and center at Henry Ford Health
Within our care transformation initiative, we were seeking a catalyst for consistency, focusing on patient education. We wanted to identify an approach that would not only provide education resources for our patients, but work across all care settings, too.
We also wanted to make it easy for clinicians to assign education. Importantly, we wanted to roll out this effort in a way that maximized the use of our existing solutions rather than bringing in a new vendor solution.
Our goal was to provide a personalized experience for patients, giving them access to materials in the way they wanted to consume them to maximize engagement
Challenges that led to standardizing patient education across the health system
With so many locations and staff, we found that we were duplicating patient education materials and efforts. As a result, we had differing versions throughout the organization that lacked consistency and standardization. Additionally, we had no way of knowing if patients were viewing materials at home once they left our care.
Gaining buy-in for a systemwide approach that supports clinician engagement
Henry Ford Health takes a patient-centric approach to care, including comprehensive education to help patients and families make informed decisions about their health. We’re continually looking for ways to raise the bar.
For this effort, we took a system-level approach, communicating our project mission by explaining the “why” and “how” of the impact on frontline staff. Our way forward was clear: standardize content and workloads, share resources, and provide easy access for staff and patients. We needed an approach that ensured clinicians had confidence in the information and the process.
Additionally, because each patient’s learning style is unique, the content delivery should be, too. By providing consistent education to patients throughout their health journeys across all our care settings, we’d accomplish our goal of personalizing their experience.
Leveraging technology to support a longitudinal approach to patient education and care
Our IT team were catalysts for consistency. Reinforcing that all clinicians use the same patient education across the system, both within our EHR and in any patient materials, was critical to support this.
We asked nursing leadership to remove all the old paper education materials from file cabinets, storage units, and the like, so that we could streamline education across our health system – including five hospitals plus our physician offices, many of which had their own instruction sets for procedure prep and other information provided to patients.
The importance of governance in patient education
At Henry Ford Health, a robust governance includes a system council which brings IT, frontline staff, and leadership together with patients. For this initiative, our council started by answering questions: What is our education need? Is someone already working on this? Once a gap was identified, we defined what content would be needed.
All content goes through a formal review process to ensure quality materials, including: • Is it written in plain language? • Does it meet grammar and spelling standards? • Does it meet diversity requirements? • Did the right subject matter expert (SME) look at it?
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3. “Health Literacy in the United States: Enhancing Assessments and Reducing Disparities,” Claude Lopez, PhD, Bumyang Kim, PhD, and Katherine Sacks, PhD, Milken Institute, https://milkeninstitute.org/report/health-literacy-us-assessments-disparities(opens in new tab/window)
4. “Patient Recall Suffers as Patients Remember Half of Health Info,” Sara Health, Patient Engagement HIT, TechTarget, March 26, 2018, https://patientengagementhit.com/news/ patient-recall-suffers-as-patients-remember-half-of-health-info(opens in new tab/window)
5. “Building the Future of Patient Education: How Hospitals can Deliver Better Health Outcomes Through Digital Education Solutions and a Unified Patient Education Strategy, A 2021 NGPX Report,” Insights Worldwide Business Research, NGPX, Elsevier. NGPXElsevier2021RPT.pdf.
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