It is the goal of all hospitals to make our patients and our communities healthier. As part of that, hospitals must become trusted partners in their patients’ pursuit of health and wellness. This begins with education. And when the patient is a child in the NICU or PICU, education becomes especially important for parents and families. From the moment a child is admitted to the NICU or PICU, parents need to feel as though their providers will go above and beyond to keep them informed and engaged.
To achieve this goal, hospitals must design and implement a comprehensive, parent, and family education program. But some hospitals don’t have the resources—staff, time, nor money—to focus on building this type of program. Such hospitals, along with those looking to enhance an existing program, can benefit by partnering with industry experts to help develop and maintain educational resources for parents and families of children in critical care units. When looking for a partner, hospitals should choose ones with the following capabilities.
- Provide an online portal for easy access. Providing parents and families with paper-based educational materials is good, but the paper is easily misplaced or lost. Having the information available online helps ensure it is accessible when and where it’s needed from any internet-enabled mobile device. The portal should be available to parents and families from the moment of their child’s admission.
- Offer a comprehensive document library. It is not uncommon for parents to “google” their child’s condition or care procedures, but the information they find may or may not be appropriate for the child’s specific situation. Having a single easy-to-navigate library of all pertinent information increases compliance and helps improve satisfaction as parents aren’t left to go searching for the information they need on their own.
- Provide customizable educational materials. Canned educational materials can be sufficient in some cases. But for parents with children in the NICU or PICU, it is essential they have access to information customized for the child’s condition or procedure. This can reduce confusion, increase comprehension, and improve compliance and care experience.
- Offer educational videos. Written information with heavy detail can be overwhelming for parents. Educational videos can improve clarity and retention. This can be especially effective for parents and extended family caregivers.
- Enable pre-recorded, personalized videos. For more complex procedures, it can be beneficial for the hospital to record instructions with the actual child and parents before discharge. This allows more child-specific instructions, which can reduce anxiety, increase compliance, and improve outcomes.
- Provide access to all family members. The rehabilitation period for children who have been under critical care can be lengthy. In these cases, it is likely that more than one family member will be helping care for the child at home. And those family members need easy access to all educational materials. They shouldn’t have to rely on others to provide the information they need.
- Make materials available for the full recovery period. As time passes or caregivers change, it is easy to forget details about the care plan. Rather than guessing, caregivers need to be able to access the information they need for the full length of the recovery period. This helps improve care plan compliance and outcomes.
- Enable reporting and tracking. Once a child has been discharged from the hospital, it is impossible to know if parents are following care instructions. The best educational solutions provide hospitals with the ability to track how often educational materials have been accessed and by whom. Having this information helps inform outpatient caregivers of potential compliance issues and can assist them in preparing for follow-up calls and appointments.
The Bottom Line
Studies show that when care plan instructions are understood at the time of discharge, patients are 30% less likely to be readmitted or to visit the ER. Partnering with a solutions provider to design a comprehensive education program for parents with children in the NICU or PICU can significantly impact quality outcomes and the care experience, both of which drive revenue, improve a hospital’s reputation in the community, and generate a healthier bottom line.