What’s the difference?
For patients of all kinds, “information” is NICE to know – the latest study, the newest theory, interesting facts (women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with chronic joint pain, the fastest growing nail is on the middle finger, a diet rich in tomatoes may reduce cancer).
But what can a patient do with that information each day to improve their health? Not much. And information is fleeting. Studies become out of date and are replaced with new ones. Theories are tested and modified on a regular basis. (It will not surprise me if next year scientists discover the fastest growing fingernail is actually on the pinkie finger – I’ve been watching my nails and I have a theory the facts may change soon enough!)
“Education” is NEED to know
These are skills, knowledge, and habits a patient needs to know to cope daily with health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, heart failure, stroke, or recovery. And that’s what we strive to produce and fill each of our patient education programs with.
It isn’t the statistics behind your medications, for example, (“people who take their medications as prescribed have a better recovery rate” – of course they do). It is what a patient needs to know about their medications to increase compliance, (oh, this pill helps my heart work better, I can use a pill box to organize my medications so I take the correct ones in the morning and evening, I should talk to my healthcare provider about any side effects, etc.).
It may seem like a small thing, and indeed it is smaller than a national study on medication compliance and the resulting statistics, but it is what the individual viewer needs to know at that particular point of care. It is the education they need to get them to the next day and then the next.
Knowledge applied to everyday life
Don’t get me wrong, while writing and producing our programs we spend a lot of time reading all of the current information available (I’ll make you guess which program I was writing when I stumbled on the fingernail fact). But from that, we filter down the information into education that will improve a patient’s acute recovery or chronic disease management – whatever applies.
And we try to base all of the education on information that is not fleeting – the tried and true, the stand the test of time information, the ones that can be turned into skills, knowledge, and habits and applied to everyday life.
Because when you are in day two of recovery from hip surgery, when you have just had a heart attack, or when you have just been told you have diabetes like your mother did, you don’t care what the latest and greatest theory is. You care about the skills you need to get healthy and stay healthy.