Help Patients Partner with You

Helping patients partner with you means everything from communicating with your patients and explaining what it means to be engaged, to encouraging them to bring written questions to their next visit. You can even give them our doctor’s appointment guide. Let patients know how important it is to advocate for their own health by interacting with their health care providers. Remind patients it’s just as important that they understand their health. Through AF4Q – South Central PA, we can help you improve partnerships with patients.

How can we communicate better with patients?

Our Health Literacy Learning Collaborative worked with medical practices and staff from the University of North Carolina and local task force members to implement three tools from the Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit. Through the collaborative, local practices assessed the methods used, attended meetings with leaders to review the tactics used, and shared outcomes and challenges with the practices. Now, practices and hospitals in our area are using some of the tactics including:

Teach-Back Method

It provides an opportunity for patients to repeat back to the doctor what they’ve heard in their own words. It’s also an opportunity to get patients engaged, as it’s designed to confirm the understanding of the condition or medication by the patient. Although, it is up to the patient to take action.

Brown Bag Medication Review

It is a technique where patients bring their medications in a brown bag to their appointment. The doctor and patient review what’s in the bag, discuss how to take the medication, and talk about why he or she should be taking it.

To learn what you can do to improve the health literacy of your patients, contact Robin Rohrbaugh of Healthy York County Coalition at or (717) 851-2333, or Kathy Gaskin of Healthy Adams County at (717) 337-4137.

Health literacy impacts everyone, regardless of race, income, cultural background, age or level of intelligence. To ensure all patients understand their health care, it’s recommended to assume that all people may have difficulty understanding, and by using plain language to describe a condition and treatment, we can improve the care for all patients. Learn more about the tactics being used by reading our Quality 4orum Newsletter articles: “Did the Patient Really Understand What I Said?” or “New Approaches for Overcoming Literacy Barriers.

How can we get patients more engaged?

We offer many tools and programs to help you get your patients engaged in their care. Encourage your patients to:

  • Join the free, 12-week I Can! Challenge. Discuss it with them during their visit, and display posters, post cards and other I Can! information in your practice or hospital. Email for materials and to determine how you can become involved!
  • Visit the Community Checkup. It will help your patients understand what type of tests they should receive, and how to work with you to maintain good control of their health.
  • Use our patient resources. We offer many resources for you and your patients – including websites to visit, and handouts to download.