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Time-saving tips for updating patient education pamphlets

by Kallen Rutledge on 2020-06-04T11:59:00-03:00 in Patient Pamphlet, Patient Education | Comments

To many patients, it seems like health care providers are speaking another language. Easy-to-read, straightforward patient education materials can help patients understand and follow health care directives, supporting both self-care and patient safety.

Why should we update our pamphlets every 3 years (or sooner)?

Keeping your content up to date helps provide patients with access to current, evidence-based information, in line with both NSHA policy and practice. NSHA Patient Education Pamphlets are an authoritative alternative to often unreliable resources found on the Internet.

When it's time to update an existing pamphlet, the Patient Education Team is here to help! After 3 years, we’ll email to remind you that an update is needed.

Things to keep in mind:

  • If immediate changes are needed to update clinic details, hours, or contact information, you can email us at pamphlets@nshealth.ca to make changes right away; no need to wait until the end of the 3-year revision cycle!
  • We keep track of all drafts and records so you don’t have to. If you worked on a pamphlet a few years ago and want to update it, email pamphlets@nshealth.ca and we’ll send you the current content for updating.
  • We ask that you use 'Track Changes' in Word (.doc, docx) or add comments as 'Sticky Notes' to a PDF (.pdf), so that we can quickly see your edits. For more information on how to do this, read our blog post How do I edit a PDF?.

Save time updating pamphlets by:

  • Setting a reminder in your Outlook calendar to review your team’s pamphlets
  • Searching for current pamphlets by title, keyword, or 4-digit print code number in the library catalogue, or viewing the complete list of active titles in our Print Code Index
  • Emailing the pamphlets team before getting started; we’ll send you the current version as a Word document, ready to revise
  • Creating a timeline for your team to complete updates to ensure a quick turn-around; this can help your team plan ahead and carve out time for revisions and approvals
  • Saving copies of copyright agreements and other permissions in one place; if you are adapting content or reusing images from external sources, you will need to provide proof of permission to us

Not sure where to start? Try asking yourself and/or your team the following questions:

  • Do we still need this pamphlet?
    • Is there an existing NSHA pamphlet that is more current and will meet our needs? Email the team at pamphlets@nshealth.ca to ask about existing pamphlets or search the Print Code Index.
  • Does the content reflect current best evidence/practice?
  • Is the contact information (e.g. phone numbers, locations, and times) current?
  • Is the equipment used current?
  • Are the drugs listed current?
  • Are there changes to pre- or post-op instructions?
  • Are the patients in the target population using the information?
    • Missed appointments, phone calls about pamphlet content, and failure to follow instructions may indicate that patients are confused by the content or do not find it relevant.
  • Are patients currently receiving several pieces of written material? Could they be combined into one resource?

We want to hear from you! Feel free to connect with us at pamphlets@nshealth.ca with any questions you may have, or check out our other posts for more tips on creating patient education material:

Kallen Rutledge

Librarian Educator
Nova Scotia Hospital, Central Zone

Carmen Dorey

Library Technician, Patient Pamphlets
Nova Scotia Hospital, Central Zone

Jackie Zoppa

Library Technician
Nova Scotia Hospital, Central Zone


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