13:28 PM

The Importance Of Providing Take-home Educational Resources For Our Patient Families

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Patient families feel more confident and engaged when they come away from a Cook Children’s visit with written information that specifically addresses their health concerns.

Megan Chavez, VP of Patient and Family Experience at Cook Children’s, encourages the consistent practice of providing take-home educational resources at each visit – from the primary care and specialty clinics to urgent care and the medical center. Cook Children’s employees have access to licensed content from four vendors available electronically, as well as 950 custom handouts.

Megan calls these resources an investment in our care that reduces inequities, reinforces key in-person teaching, and ultimately improves health outcomes. When families receive clear and pertinent education from their doctor, they feel better equipped. They can refer back to it later if questions come up.

“We want patients and families to be active in their care,” Megan said. “And in order to do that, they need the education and information that our care teams have. It helps them be arm-in-arm with us.”

Patient families routinely tell Cook Children’s that they consider the education resources a vital component to their experience. Whether a child is receiving a complex diagnosis, or a new treatment, or a routine checkup with the pediatrician, this education lengthens the continuum of care. Written materials provide insights and instructions that can help prevent complications from occurring.

“One of the things we hear from our patient families a lot is, ‘What do I need to do when I get home?’ We want to make sure we provide our families with consistent, understandable language to help them take care of their child. It’s so important,” Megan said.

Megan cited these benefits of routine distribution of education materials:

  • Families are able to detect infection or other concerns earlier, and head off any issues before they worsen. Trips to the Urgent Care and Emergency Department are reduced.
  • Health literacy improves. Many times, apprehension or fearfulness in a medical setting decrease people’s ability to understand what they’re being told. The lack of clear information makes a scary experience more challenging.
  • Patient families are less likely to search for answers online if they receive accurate and updated resources that they can count on from Cook Children’s.
  • For patient families who don’t speak English fluently, the written handouts support the conversations they have with their doctors. Many of the education resources at Cook Children’s are available in Spanish or other languages.
  • Parent families are able to consult the education if questions arise at home. Emails, MyChart messages, phone calls etc. to the provider are reduced, which is a time saver for everyone. 

Megan encourages the families of patients to ask questions and request reference materials at their appointments to ensure they know what to expect, next steps and anything they should be monitoring at home. As a bonus, the new MyCookChildren's app includes a feature that allows families to reach out to our medical library services for additional reliable information.

Based on feedback from families, Megan emphasizes several points for employees to remember when it comes to patient education … these education pieces fill in gaps and provide consistent messaging. It takes a little extra time on the front end to make sure they have access to personalized education, but it saves time on the back end, and is an opportunity to build knowledge, confidence and relationships.

“It also ensures that we're able to attain our Promise, which is improving the health and well-being of our kiddos,” she said. “It's in our DNA to make sure that our families are part of our care team. This is one of the ways we do it. Connecting those dots and making those investments help us do the things that we all value.”

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How To Find The Information

There are two ways to find the materials (you must be on the Cook Children's Network to access this information): 

1. Go to CookNet, to the gray Quick Links box on the right, to the Patient Education portal. There, you’ll see the search box for Cook Children’s custom resources as well links to all four vendors:  KidsHealth (Nemours), Lexicomp (Wolters Kluwer), Health Library (EBSCO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

2. When wrapping up a visit or discharging a patient using Epic, you can access the Lexicomp content through the Clinical References hyperlink. These instructions are included on the patient's after-visit summary (AVS) and in the visit summary in MyCookChildren’s.

Click here to learn more.