Education Report

Empowering patients through health education

Research has shown that patients' health literacy (the ability to understand health information and make decisions based on that information) is vital to their health and well–being. St. Michael's empowers patients by providing the tools and resources they need to take charge of their health.

For example, situated front and centre at our main entrance, the Patient and Family Learning Centre is a "one stop shop" for all of St. Michael's patients' education needs. Anyone is free to drop by and browse the books and pamphlets, or be guided through the materials by a trained volunteer. Patients can also request a free, custom information package to take home or be emailed to them.

"I think this is a great project," said Martha Schroder, critical care unit resource nurse at St. Michael's. "Often we have patients or their family members looking for additional information about their care, some of whom struggle with understanding medical information. Now we have a fast and easy way of directing them to our Patient and Family Learning Centre so they can obtain reader–friendly information about their condition as well as information on the latest medical trials for their conditions."

The St. Michael's Online Patient Education Library is also there to support patient and staff education — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's a substantial collection of high quality, evidence–based education materials that have been endorsed by Harvard Medical School, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association.

"Our clinical staff love the Online Patient Education Library," said Tina Papadokos, patient education specialist at St. Michael's. "It's a resource for them as well as something they can direct their patients to."

The next step for patient education at the hospital has been to expand to a broader audience through social media: St. Michael's now has a "HealthTips" Twitter feed. Since integrating the online patient library with HealthTips, hits to the site have quadrupled in under half a year.