LEADING OFF: CEO Challenge: Simplify Your Patient Education

My challenge for you this month: Simplify the education you provide to your patients.


While health care professionals pride themselves on informing and educating patients, if people don’t understand, retain and recall the information, it becomes true but useless, also referred to as TBU. The goal is not to oversimplify the message, but rather make it more compact and memorable, so patients will actually do what you’re asking them to do.


  • Use visuals. The part of the brain responsible for processing words is small, relative to the part of the brain responsible for processing visuals. People forget much of what they hear, but they are more likely to recall what they’ve seen. (See .)
  • Limit choices. The human brain becomes easily overwhelmed when presented with too many options. The idea is not to “withhold” options, but rather direct patients to the best options.
    For example, if a patient is interested in a new pair of sunwear and has divulged he’s an avid golfer, his best options are sunwear designed for outdoor sports and, specifically, golf.
  • Share stories. A quick story about a patient who lost his vision from contact lens abuse is likely to be more powerful that a dry discussion about all the risks of CL abuse. (See .)
  • Demonstrate contrast. Optometrists do this every day by asking “Which is better —1 or 2?” When the choice is easy, the patients responds confidently. When the choices appear similar, the patient becomes indecisive. Many practices spend a lot of time educating patients on the best eye wear, but they fail to demonstrate how it’s better than the alternatives. Providing the “why” creates patient buy-in to the products and services you feel will be best. OM