Helping Patients Find Their Voice: Too Much, Too Fast?

As healthcare providers we tend to give a large amount of information to our patients at one time. It’s not that we don’t care or that we don’t understand adult learning; sometimes there is just a lot of new information that’s important to know. Think about the patient that is new to monitoring their blood glucose and new to insulin. It’s not just learning two new skills (which can be frightening enough for some) but learning how to treat lows, figuring out how to fit testing and injections into their lifestyle, what to do if they miss a dose and on and on. Those “two things” come with a lot of other little things to learn.

Here’s a few of things we’ve learned at Fit4D to make a difference in the complex world of diabetes, where there is frequently too much information that’s too fast!

  • Frequent check-ins are a must.  You might be thinking, but that’s not scalable—it’s expensive and certainly not realistic. But wait…check-ins come through online live events like webinars and support groups, texting their Fit4D coach, interacting on CDE led twitter groups, and phone calls when really needed.
  • Most of the questions come after the appointment.  We’ve all heard the stats that patients only retain 50% of the information given once out the door. Once they get home that’s when the questions start.  Sure, some people will call the office, but some people won’t.  Maybe they just called but then thought of another question or they’re embarrassed to call in the first place because they think they should already know the answer.  Having a place to go about “what‘s bugging them the most about their diabetes” is crucial. I’m not talking about a pile of handouts or even a website. What I mean is technology that is smart enough to individualize and yet escalate to their coach when needed.
  • Create a trusted relationship.  It’s important to get patients honest concerns and create an environment to help them feel like it’s OK to ask, in their mind, the “silly” questions. You may be thinking, how can just one question or one small piece of information make a difference?  Timing of medication is one very common mistake patients make.  Depending on type of medication simply helping them simply understand when  (and why) they are taking their medication can make a big difference in blood sugars and increase medication adherence.

I’d love to hear how you make a difference for patients and conquer the “too much, too fast” dilemma. 

Sherri Isaak, MS,RD,CDE, BC-ADM