5 Reasons Why Consistent Health Education is Important

Connie Feiler, MSN, RN, Healthwise Clinical Director of Patient Experience

Man standing on scale weighing himself


People make health decisions every day: whether to take their medicines, how to monitor their health conditions, and general lifestyle choices. Although many factors can affect these decisions, a big one is simply whether or not people understand what they should be doing.

For example, people with heart failure are told to weigh themselves every day. Sudden weight gain can mean their heart failure is worsening as fluids build up in their body. If this happens, they need to get in touch with their doctor. But how much weight, and how quickly, does “sudden weight gain” mean?

One hospital was giving patients confusing, conflicting information. Some patients were instructed to call their doctor if they gained more than two pounds in two days. Another handout told patients to call their doctor if they gained more than three pounds in a week. Other materials cited weight gain of five pounds in a week as a reason for concern. As you can imagine, many patients didn’t know what to do. Some of them didn’t monitor their weight at all and ended up in the ER. One patient said, “I didn’t weigh myself because I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. Every time I tried to figure it out, I got a different answer.”

And this problem isn’t limited to condition management. Previously, we shared a story about a woman who gave up on breastfeeding her newborn because she received so much confusing, conflicting information at each stage of her care.

In fact, studies have found that 25% to 80% of patients may receive conflicting information about their illness and its management. And it’s no surprise that conflicting health information is associated with negative outcomes.

What Can Consistent Health Education Do?

A good first step in preventing patient, member, and user confusion is making sure the health education you provide is consistent. Wherever you offer consumers health information—from a doctor, marketing materials, your website, or home caregivers—consistency helps set up patients, members, and users for success.

Here are five ways consistent health education makes a difference:

Helps patients understand
The biggest plus of consistent health education is that it helps individuals fully understand their health so they can make the best decisions for themselves. If your education offers conflicting recommendations, consumers will be left confused and unsure of what to do. People learn in different ways, so it’s important to use a variety of education formats like text, visuals, and video—but remember not to send mixed messages. As you assemble education to share, make sure all the pieces align. Videos should have the same message and recommendations as accompanying articles and images.

Makes your organization more trustworthy
If patients and users see your organization as a consistent authority, they’ll turn to you first for health information. We all know that a whole world of information—and misinformation—is just a couple of clicks away. If patients trust your organization, they won’t feel the need to consult Dr. Google. Instead, they’ll be confident they’re getting trustworthy, accurate information from you every time.

Nurse using digital table when meeting with elderly female patient


Helps providers and coaches have a unified message
Not only does consistent education help build trust, but it also helps providers and coaches have a unified message. When everyone is on the same page, consumers are more likely to trust the providers themselves. Research shows that when patients don’t trust their provider, patient outcomes are often worse.

A unified message also makes life easier for providers and coaches. Rather than starting from square one with new information at each interaction, everyone knows what the patient or member has already learned and can reinforce the same message at each step in the consumer care journey.

Makes teaching more effective
Consistent education also makes teaching consumers about their health more effective, because repetition helps people remember. One home care nurse said when she asked her patients what they learned in the hospital, they’d typically haul out a whole bag of materials—many of them with conflicting information. Then, her hospital streamlined its education and started using one consistent education solution. Suddenly, patients were getting the same information at every touchpoint. They remembered what they had learned, excelled at teach-back, and did a better job taking care of themselves.

Improves patient outcomes
Healthcare organizations want their patients, members, and users to be well. Patient education helps make that happen. Studies have shown that patients who receive high-quality education are more likely to recover successfully and adhere to care regimens. For example, wound management: According to the CDC, 1 in 31 patients in hospital facilities has a hospital-acquired infection (HAI). HAIs in U.S. hospitals have direct medical costs of at least $28.4 billion annually. Two of the main risk factors for getting an HAI are not adhering to best practices for prevention, and overuse or improper use of antibiotics—both problems that can be remedied through consistent education. Two of the ten strategies recommended to combat HAIs? Promoting appropriate antibiotic use and educating patients.

Are you ready to provide your patients, members, or users with consistent health education content? All Healthwise education—including our text, videos, and visuals—are aligned because they’re all created in-house and reviewed by our clinical experts. Learn more about our new digital education solution, Healthwise® Compass.