Survey: NPs Spend At Least Half of Appointment Time on Patient Education

Jennifer Barrett, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017
Educating patients about various medical conditions, and correcting medical misinformation that patients may be researching on their own in places like the Internet comprises a large portion of a nurse practitioner’s day, according to the findings of a recent Merck Manuals survey.
The survey was conducted at a recent medical conference and included 210 NPs. According to the responses, 88% of respondents reported that they spend at least half of appointment times educating patients on diagnoses, treatments, and prescriptions. NPs also indicated in the survey that the top factors affecting nurse practitioner/patient relationship are shortened appointments and low health literacy.
Although most NPs (78%) indicated that they do prefer their patients to do research before appointments, patients may encounter misinformation or make automatic assumptions about their diagnoses when doing personal research. Ninety-five percent of NPs responded that their patients typically attempt to diagnose themselves prior to appointments.
When asked to characterize their patients’ health literacy, 45% of NPs acknowledged that lack of understanding gets in the way of the patients’ ability to maintain their health. Forty-eight percent indicated that their patients understand enough to follow basic treatment instructions, and 7% said that patients are highly knowledge about their treatment.
A little bit of research prior to appointments can be helpful to both the patient and NP. According to the survey, NPs noted several ways their patients can prepare for appointments:
·      Online research (51%)
·      Talking to a physician/nurse they know (31%)
·      Printing materials to bring to the appointment (10%)
About 51% of NPs said that their patients do not prepare for appointments at all.
According to the responses, the top factors that affect nurse practitioner/patient relationships are: shortened appointments, low health literacy, and increased dependency on paperwork/digital records.
The challenge is working through misinformation and ensuring that patients are receiving the proper education, without instantly jumping to diagnoses of conditions they don’t have. Researching before appointments can allow patients to discuss their condition and treatment options with their NP.
Nurse practitioners double as med info decoders for patients [news release]. Merck Manual’s website. Accessed August 1, 2017. 

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