Tools From Health is Primary Help Keep Patients Engaged

Campaign Offers Wide Range of Family Medicine-friendly Resources

January 04, 2017 01:38 pm News Staff
[Health is Primary team graphic]

Family physicians have a wide range of tools to help them keep their patients healthy, and the most powerful of these may be patient education.

That's why the Health is Primary campaign( from Family Medicine for America's Health( has devoted so much energy to monthly mini-campaigns that drive home the vital importance of primary care and give the public concise, easily grasped information about how to be better patients. The mini-campaigns will continue in 2017( as one part of a continuing effort to promote primary care to patients, policymakers and other key stakeholders.

Health is Primary, the product of a partnership of the AAFP and seven other national family medicine organizations, created numerous tools last year that family physicians can offer their patients throughout 2017 to help them understand and take advantage of the full value of primary care.

These resources explain how patients can be active partners in many aspects their health care.

Providing end-of-life care is a hallmark of family medicine, and Health is Primary created a handout that physicians can give patients during discussions about advance directives.( Another tear sheet offers advice on how patients and their loved ones can provide physical, mental, emotional and spiritual comfort( to those who are at the end of life.

[fruit, a measuring tape and blood glucose monitor wrapped in a stethoscope. ]

Mental health care integration, with primary care teams and behavioral health specialists working closely together, is an important element of family medicine. The campaign issued a patient tear sheet on mental health( that defines mental health and mental illness, lists indicators of mental health, and discusses emotional health.

Fitness and nutrition are potent tools for fighting chronic illness. One mini-campaign focused on these issues with handouts on exercise( and nutrition( that answer common questions, offer strategies to help achieve wellness goals and explain the integral role family physicians play in helping patients who are trying to adopt healthier habits.

Chronic disease is prevalent among family physicians' patients. To assist in conversations about these conditions, physicians can give patients sheets on diabetes,( heart disease,( and chronic kidney disease and hypertension.(

Immunizations for children and adults are important to public health, so a two-page handout( teaches patients about the safety of vaccines and explains other basic information. Then patients can look over an easy-to-read chart listing recommended immunizations for infants, children and teens( and another one for adults.(

Healthy aging includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle with good food choices, moderate exercise and plenty of sleep. To help patients understand how to age well, physicians can give them handouts on staying active,( as well as on preventive services key to sustaining and improving brain and body health.(

[Senior woman jogging across deck over lake]

Caregiver health is a critical concern when someone is taking care of a loved one who has a chronic medical condition such as cancer, diabetes or dementia. When family physicians talk with these caregivers, they can offer them a tear sheet with practical tips( on how to support wellness and maintain life balance.

Patient engagement is at the heart of all these efforts, so Health is Primary put together an infographic( on putting patients at the center of care that physicians can use to get that word out.

A collection containing most of the patient information resources in English and Spanish is available as a single download( from the Health is Primary website.

The site also features many more resources to help engage patients and send the message that primary care is the linchpin of the health care system, including lists of things that patients,( physicians,( students,( employers( and chapters( can do to be champions of primary care.

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