Don’t overestimate your patient’s understanding of the health and medical information you have imparted in a visit. Studies show that patients forget up to 80% of what their doctor tells them as soon as they leave the office, and nearly 50% of what they do remember is recalled incorrectlyi. Use these strategies to ensure that your patient knows what he or she needs to know by the end of the visit.
- Discuss no more than 3-5 health/medical concepts with your patient. Any more can dilute the main messages
- Repeat critical information, and then repeat it again
- Offer paper and pen to encourage the patient to take notes
- Write down key points and instructions for your patient. (It is handy to have these notes in duplicate, one for the patient to take home, and one to be kept in the patient’s records)
- Use the “Teach Back” method at the end of each concept (see below)*
- Encourage your patients to follow-up by phone or email.
*The Teach Back Method is a great way to find out what your patient understands. Just ask the patient to restate the key concepts in his or her own words. If the information is inaccurate or incomplete, go over the concept again (using conversational terms the patient can understand) until the “teach back” is right.