Using the Ask-Educate-Ask Approach to Get Patients to Take Action

 Many health care providers agree that it can be extremely difficult to get patients to take action; some even say it’s impossible. In a recent SurroundHealth webinar, “Health Literacy: Skills for Moving from ‘Mission Impossible?’ to ‘Mission Accomplished’” Dr. James Dudl from the Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute discussed using the Ask-Educate-Ask approach to help move patients to action by uncovering barriers & teaching problem solving skills.

Here is a breakdown of the Ask-Educate-Ask script:

ASK. In order to start an action, first address the barriers. Ask your patient about what barriers he/she is encountering, such as lack of motivation. Make sure they understand that the barriers need to be addressed immediately, not at the next appointment.

  • For example, “In order to start treatment regularly tomorrow, what problems, questions or concerns do you need to deal with now?”
Photo of healthcare provider educating patient

Using the Ask-Educate-Ask method is a great way to help patients overcome barriers and solve problems.

EDUCATE. This is your chance to demonstrate problem solving skills. Try to help them come up with solutions to overcome barriers. For example, if a patient is having trouble remembering to take medication, you may suggest:

  • “Some find it helpful to take it with something they do every day, like drink morning coffee, brushing teeth, eating, but I’m curious…”

Understanding that different methods will work for different patients, this is a good time to open up the floor and see what will solution fits best with you patient. Your goal is not to get your patient to do what you suggest, but to get them to take ownership of the solution.

ASK. This final step will lead you patient to solve their problem. Ask questions that will get them thinking, such as:

  • What would work for you?
  • What will you do to make that happen?

Once they come up with a solution, it’s beneficial to use the teach back approach and have them repeat their plan for reinforcement.

  • What will you do NOW?

To hear more about what Dr. Dudl discussed during the webinar, view the full archived version on SurroundHealth. 

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