Patient Education Makes Respiratory Therapists Relevant
As I go around and set up people on CPAP machines, I am always struck by the fact that sleep labs miss the opportunity to educate patients about what CPAP is, what goals of therapy are attainable, and how CPAP may help improve their sleep. In over a year, I have yet to have a patient tell me that the sleep lab told them anything about what they were doing. This is an opportunity missed. However, it is an opportunity for me: I always spend the time explaining CPAP, APAP, and BiPAP to them.
One of the biggest roadblocks to compliance in respiratory therapy can be a lack of information. I realize it is no longer "cool" to spend time with patients; that "stacking" treatments is almost a necessity in some hospitals because of the treatment load, but the opportunities that are missed by doing this are making it more difficult for patients to understand his or her therapy, and understand why it is important that they do the treatment or therapy as prescribed to get the results they need.
Patients do not understand many things in a hospital and the days are gone when patients just do what you say because you are the medical professional. Today's patient, likely a baby boomer, wants options. He wants to know why you want him to do this. She needs to understand what will happen when the switch is flipped and therapy begins.
Customer service is leaving us in every industry. As a result, many industries are starting to fail. In my opinion, one way we can ensure our value to the patient is to bring customer service back. Spend a little extra time with your patient. Explain things. Be the expert. This improves compliance and outcomes, both necessary components of our trade if we are to survive as a profession.
That's just my opinion,
Jim Thacker, MHA, CRT, AE-C
Editor's note: Check out our patient education center, with more than 50 expert-reviewed educational handouts on sleep, asthma, COPD, ventilation and more, to assist you in teaching patients about their diagnosis and therapy.