Evaluation in Patient Education

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Chapter 3 of the text, The Practice of Patient Education, A Case Study Approach discusses evaluation in patient education.  The text provides many excellent concepts and tools for the health educator to draw upon when evaluating the effectiveness of the education for the learner.  The importance of evaluating patient education programs cannot be underestimated.  The goals of improving patient outcomes must be evident for education programs to continue exist. 

Certified programs that provide patient education for management of diseases such as diabetes and COPD must collect and document extensive data on an ongoing basis.  The data is used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the program based on the outcomes of the patient over time.  Quality patient data is required for maintaining programs and recertification’s. If the objectives of the program are not met and demonstrated by improved outcomes, the program may not be re-certified.  Certified patient education programs, such as Outpatient Diabetes Education, are often required by Medicare and Insurances in order to be paid for the education.  The incentive for effective teaching is patient outcomes oriented, in part, so that the program can financially sustain itself.

The use of data collection tools and electronic tracking of outcomes is now the standard of practice.  There are many tools available to assist with data collection.  While browsing the intranet I came across the Stanford Patient Education Website, http://patienteducation.stanford.edu/research/.  It contains several patient evaluation tools that, due to a grant, are available for use by interested persons.  Tools for evaluating education regarding diabetes and COPD programs are available in English and in Spanish.  This resource could be very valuable to patient educators who are interested in either validating the tools they currently use or developing others to assess the effectiveness of their patient education.

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