Tips and Tools
Tips and Tools
What you, the provider, can do:
- Create a safe environment where patients feel comfortable talking openly with you.
- Be an active listener. Encourage patients to share information they feel is necessary for their visit. Pose open-ended questions. Instead of asking, “Do you have any questions?” ask the patient, “What questions do you have for me?”
- Get feedback from the patient.
- Have the patient ask you three questions: “What is my main problem?” “What do I need to do about it?” “Why is it important for me to do this?”
- Make sure all printed and graphic communications are easy for patients to read and understand. Avoid acronyms such as “CVA” for “stroke.”
- Sit down (instead of standing) to achieve eye level with your patient.
- Use visual models to illustrate a procedure or condition.
- Ask patients to “teach back” the care instructions you give to them.
- Follow up with patients to make sure they have understood instructions.
- Remember that you may have some patients who cannot read and as a result will not understand written comments or instructions.
What you, the provider, should not do:
- Make assumptions about the patient’s health literacy based on factors such as age, race, ethnicity or level of education.
- Treat patients in a condescending or patronizing manner. Remember to protect everyone’s dignity.
- Use medical or technical jargon instead of plain, direct, “living room” language.
- Write prescriptions that are unreadable.
- Discourage patients from bringing a friend or relative to an appointment for support.
- Design Web pages that are hard for patients to navigate.