“Engage for Health”: Helping Improve Patient-Doctor Communication in Pennsylvania Public Libraries

Engage for HealthThe issue of patient-doctor communication is a topic of interest to a wide range of healthcare organizations. In Pennsylvania, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region (NNLM MAR), The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA), and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, National Evaluation Office (NNLM NEO), decided to pilot a project using public libraries to educate community members about how to improve communication with their healthcare providers. This was done in conjunction with the PaLA PA Forward initiative which is a statewide initiative that focuses on helping to improve five literacies (basic, information, civic and social, health, and financial) for all Pennsylvanians. Libraries of all types (academic, public, school, and special) are working collectively to provide access to resources, services, and offer programming surrounding these five literacies.

HAP created a program called Engage for Health which is a community education program focused on teaching patients how to effectively communicate with their healthcare providers. NNLM MAR updated the materials to include resources from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) which included MedlinePlus and NIHSeniorHealth. MAR then provided funding to PaLA to pilot the program in 16 libraries of varied demographics (urban, suburban, and rural) across Pennsylvania. What is unique about this program is that it is run in the library or a community agency in partnership with a local hospital or healthcare provider. Additionally, for libraries in PA that wish to offer this program, HAP will work directly with them to locate a hospital/healthcare provider partner. The Engage for Health toolkit includes a 16 slide PowerPoint presentation, an evaluation tool, role play exercise, and media.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) also partnered with the aforementioned organizations to provide DVDs of the video and materials, including an informational pamphlet and the Questions are the Answers notepads, for distribution at the programs. AHRQ recently published a case study about their involvement with the Engage for Health program. In partnership with HAP, NNLM MAR and the Hershey Public Library (an original Engage for Health cohort participant), a recording of the program was aired on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

If you are interested in learning more about the Engage for Health program or want to offer it in your community, please contact NNLM MAR.

~Lydia Collins