Choosing an Education Partner

New Parent Education: Do you want a vendor or a partner?

Following is a short primer on selecting the right educational provider for your NICU or Mother/Baby area. It is meant to be a start, not an exhaustive guide.

The best parent education programs provide value in all of these areas: clinical, economic, patient engagement and patient satisfaction. At a minimum, a good program should:

  • Have high quality information that is reliable, accurate and available 24/7
  • Increase patient engagement, understanding and compliance
  • Provide a consistent presentation of information to patients and families
  • Reduce the amount of clinician and staff time needed to provide important education
  • Assist in the discharge process
  • Provide educational and emotional support to the parents and caregivers after discharge
  • Help improve HCAHPS scores
  • Provide back-end support for clinicians
  • Provide a way to provide pre-admittance education

Quality education must appeal to a broad audience with multiple learning styles.

multi-cultural parents

Patients come from a large cross section of socio-economic, educational, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Further, new parents are often stressed or affected by other factors that reduce their ability to absorb the myriad of instructions and education that you must communicate to them.

To effectively engage, teach or coach such a diverse group is difficult and time consuming for your staff.

Important factors to consider when selecting patient education.

Content is king.

  • Do the programs you are considering have the depth and breadth of content that you need for your specialty area?
  • Does the education provider specialize in education for parents of newborns or do they simply provide basic educational modules in these areas so they can claim they cover all educational needs of a hospital?
  • Is the content presented in a logical, organized fashion or is merely a hodgepodge of videos or slideshows?
  • Are the visual components appealing and use images that take into account a diverse, multi-cultural audience?
  • Is the content available prior to admittance, during the hospital stay and post-discharge?

Are the educational programs available in more than one language?

  • A good education provider should provide programs in both English and Spanish as a basic standard, plus have the ability to custom produce critical lessons in additional languages.
  • Does the program allow the user to easily “toggle” from one language to another? This can be particularly important in Mother/Baby units and NICUs, given that people of child bearing age often speak English while other family members (like grandparents) and caregivers may not.

Are the programs created in an easily understood “writing” style

To appeal to, and be understood by parents across a broad socio-economic and educational spectrum, the best educational programs avoid “doctor speak”. Lessons should be presented at the same reading level as most newspapers – typically, the 5th grade reading level.

This should not mean the lessons have been “dumbed down.” Rather, they should avoid big words and excessive medical jargon. Feedback from hospitals shows that patients and families at all socio-economic levels appreciate this straight-forward, simple style. If properly done, programs will appeal to sophisticated viewers as well as to those with less education.

Is the program designed to accommodate different learning styles?

Not all people learn the same way. To accommodate different learning styles and to overcome learning barriers, lessons should utilize a multimedia, multi-sensory approach. Viewers should be able to hear the information at the same time that they can see readable text and illustrative graphics or videos. This approach enables learning by those who are:

  • Auditory learners,
  • Visual learners,
  • Hard of hearing,
  • Visually impaired,
  • “Tactile learners”
    • Want the ability to control the pace of learning, repeat lessons, etc.
    • Use the education and platform to enhance hands-on demonstrations and training by clinicians.

How are educational materials presented to your patient/parents?

  • What technology is used to present parent education in the hospital? Why?
  • Does your vendor provide a convenient way for parents and other caregivers to view the same information, in the same format, from home?
  • Is the information able to be viewed on the types of devices most familiar to and used by, people of child bearing age (tablets, smart phones, computers)?

Other considerations when selecting an education partner

Does the education provider permit customizations for your organization?

Your education provider should be able to customize certain portions of their programs to fit your specific needs. Standard customizations should be included as part of the base price; others may require non-standard programming and production that you must pay for.

  • Standard customizations typically include basic logo identification, a welcome message from your hospital, and the ability for parents and the staff to easily track whether the parents have viewed the lessons you consider essential.
  • Paid customizations might include incorporating custom content into the program or providing content in other languages. This might include adding hospital-provided videos, text, success stories about your hospital, staff profiles, etc. The cost for custom programming will depend on the complexity of your request.

What kinds of warranties, support and updates do they provide?

  • Does the education provider automatically provide full repair or replace warranties on any hardware (tablets, computers, etc.) that are part of their system?
  • Is the provider responsive – both during the sales process and for support after the sale?
  • Does the education provider provide periodic updates to the programs and technology that you get from them? How is this done?

What other hospitals use this provider and what do they say about them?

Are the educational programs you are considering trusted tools used by hospitals similar to yours? Whether you are a large teaching hospital or a small community hospital, you will want to know what similar hospitals think of the vendor AND its programs.

Can your vendor help you get approval and funding to implement their program?

  • Does their technology, reporting mechanisms, etc. help you or hinder you in terms of dealing with management, IT and legal departments? Ask them to explain these things to you.
  • Can they help you cost-justify their program in a way that helps you secure funding for their programs?
  • Can they provide support to you if your facility needs to secure external funding, like grants?

With MetaMD, you get a Parent Education Partner, not a vendor.

Many vendors can provide individual, topical videos, brochures, and literature. Only a few organizations are completely committed to being your education partner and have the capacity, focus and internal culture necessary to be the best.

MetaMD ‘s mission is to improve healthcare through education and we are intent on being the best education partner possible for the NICU and Mother/Baby areas of hospitals and the parents they serve.

Clearly, there are many issues to consider when selecting patient/parent education and the company that supplies these programs to you. So, please, choose carefully.

We hope this starter guide is helpful to you.