How to Educate Your Patients

It is more important today than ever to educate your patients due to the vast amount of information on the internet.  A lot of this information that patients read is incorrect or does not pertain to their problem.  It is imperative to give your patients the right information in order for them to make an informed decision about their foot and ankle health care.

People are either visual or auditory learners.  Due to this it is important to have written material to hand the patient at the time of their visit.  I have treatment option packets for at least thirty different common foot problems.  This packet contains information about their problem, and different type of treatments.  The treatment option sheets in the packet are divided into conservative and surgical procedures. 

After gathering the patient information and performing my examination, I pull out this packet.  I pull out the treatment option sheet, and explain to the patient what their problem is, why they have it, and how we can treat it.  I try to make them feel at ease, usually saying that in most instances, we can treat the problem through conservative means. 

I then circle the procedures I plan to do today, as well as the products I recommend to use to treat their problem.  I explain to them our goal is to get them better quickly in order to…this is where you fill in the blank.  On your history, you should ask, “What does this problem prevent you from doing?” They might say running, or working, or playing with their grandchildren.

The key is to make good eye contact with your patient.  Make sure they understand what you are saying, and always use laymen terms.  I would say, “Here is the $25 word that is your diagnosis, but I will also explain what that really means.” So, I will say, “You have plantar fasciitis,” and then I bring out the foot model and explain that to them. 

In addition, I will write them a letter to thank them for coming in, and in the body of the letter, I will reiterate what their problem is and how we are going to go about to treat it. 

I would highly recommend to educate your medical assistants on what you see and how you treat these problems.  Patients might ask them questions about their foot problem, and it will make it easier for you if the medical assistants can answer them. 

Remember, to spend proper time in educating your patients.  An educated patient is one that will most likely be happy with your service and refer others.
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