Good organization skills essential

Development, review and revision a full-time task

As program manager for consumer health education at The Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Diane C. Moyer, MS, RN, is responsible for the development, review, and revision of the patient education materials.

The academic medical center has two locations within Columbus. The main campus has a 1,000-bed hospital, a comprehensive cancer center, a physical rehabilitation facility, and a psychiatric rehabilitation facility as well as several clinics. The medical center also partners with a number of small rural hospitals and is in the process of constructing a hospital for the care of cardiac patients on its main campus.

All written materials are available to staff via an intranet system, and members of the community have access to the information through the Internet. The patient education section receives the most hits on the web site, and each week Moyer receives e-mail messages and phone calls requesting to use the information from people throughout the United States and sometimes internationally.

Moyer works with one other person in consumer health education, a technical associate who is responsible for formatting all the patient education materials and putting them on-line. She oversees the technical associate and reports to the administrative director of network operations.

Patient education materials produced by The Ohio State University Medical Center have been on-line for almost a decade. The purpose is to provide readily available written information to support clinicians in their teaching.

"Throughout the system, a clinician can go to our intranet on the computer and pull up the most recent copy and [find that] the information is consistent across the spectrum. It saves us storage space, printing cost, and transporting the materials back and forth," says Moyer.

The date the material was developed or last reviewed is on the copy as well as the department that initiated its development. That way, it can be updated every three years and, Moyer knows where to send the material for review. Each year, about 900 pieces must be reviewed.

Moyer has been in her current position for about 3½ years. Prior to being hired as program manager, she worked in patient education for about six years at another health care system in Columbus.

Much of Moyer’s career was spent as a staff nurse in the medical-surgical area. For two years she was a med-surg clinical nurse specialist at Ohio State and during that time developed patient education materials.

In a recent interview with Patient Education Management, Moyer discussed her philosophy on patient education, the challenges she has met, and the skills she has developed that help her to do her job well.

Networking to build inventory

Question: What is your best success story?

Answer: "I have been working with my counterparts at two other health care systems in Central Ohio to translate patient education materials into foreign languages, and we received funding for the project at the end of May [2004].

"We will be hiring a part-time person who will work through me to do some community focus groups to get information about cultural beliefs and practices we need to be aware of while developing the materials. [This will help ensure the materials are] culturally appropriate and meet the needs of the community.

"We plan to make the materials available through an Internet site without copyright [restrictions] to anyone who wishes to use them for patient education. We hope to get funding for at least a couple of years so we can build a collective inventory of foreign language materials on topics beyond what we currently see in patient education such as vaccinations and women-infant care related to pregnancy and childbirth issues."

Languages that will be targeted include Somali, Spanish, Russian, and Asian (such as Chinese and Vietnamese).

Question: What is your area of strength?

Answer: "I tend to be able to juggle a number of projects. Keeping on top of things while having multiple projects at various points of development is essential in this type of position.

"It is important to come up with a system that you can use. As far as filing materials, I tend to do better having active projects visible, so I have stacks on my desk. Anyone who came into my office probably would not think that I am well organized, but it’s a system that works for me. I have a number of projects in the computer that I work from until they reach a certain point.

"If materials have been sent out for review, I make a notation on them and then look back through the stack periodically. And if I do not receive a response within two weeks, I send out a reminder."

Question: What lesson did you learn the hard way?

Answer: "While working in home care, I would find people doing dressings and procedures incorrectly because they misunderstood what had been taught. That was an eye-opener for me. I came to understand the importance of having patients repeat back what it was that you taught them.

"That was very important for me to pick up early in my career, and has been a piece that I have found very helpful through my years — both in the clinical setting and then in this role. I try to determine how people would interpret the written word, if it could be read in a different way that wouldn’t be clear, and what we can do to make it better."

Question: What is your weakest link or greatest challenge?

Answer: "Every year, hundreds of publications must be sent to clinicians for review, and it is a struggle getting them back in a timely manner. I am not sure what we can do to streamline the process or make it easier.

"In many areas, we have a person who is designated as a liaison, or member of our patient education committee, so I tend to initially send the pieces to [those people] because they know me and are familiar with the process. In areas where we do not have a liaison, I will contact the unit manager or unit director and ask if there is a member of their staff I can send it to, or I send it to them and let them disperse it. If I don’t have a particular person assigned, it makes it more difficult for me to follow up.

Question: What is your vision for patient education for the future?

Answer: "I would like to see patient education integrated into our clinical management systems so that, if a patient were being scheduled for a test, the computer would automatically generate the education materials for staff.

"I would also like to see more integration of our documents within our discharge planning process so, again, staff wouldn’t have to back out of one computer system and go through another in order to print the material.

"Integrating those pieces into the documentation would be helpful as well, so there is less need for either duplication of efforts or wasting time in trying to figure out where something needs to be written down."

Question: What have you done differently since your last JCAHO visit?

Answer: "One of the things we are working on, and continue to work on, is the documentation of interdisciplinary care including patient education. We, like many institutions, continue to struggle with how to get people to write what they are doing in the chart and where to document it so that surveyors can see there is integration of care throughout the disciplines."

The Ohio State University Medical Center will undergo a review by the Joint Commission in September 2005.

Question: When trying to create and implement a new form, patient education materials, or program, where do you get information/ideas from which to work?

Answer: "I like to go to the group or person who is initiating the form, program, or document and talk to [that person] about its purpose and the audience they are trying to reach. I often find that they may think it is a good idea, but they haven’t talked to any patients. I encourage people to discuss the idea with a few patients to get their feedback.

"It is important to know who your audience is and the purpose of the brochure or program. Then determine one or two key pieces that need to be conveyed and use them as the focal point. It’s important to ask what we want the person to walk away with when they read the document."


For more information about patient education methods at The Ohio State University Medical Center, contact:

Diane C. Moyer, MS, RN, Program Manager, Consumer Health Education, The Ohio State University Medical Center, 1375 Perry St., Room 524, Columbus, OH 43201. Telephone: (614) 293-3191. E-mail: