Massachusetts General Hospital Patient Care Services
Excellence Every Day


click here

PCS Home Page Nursing Chaplaincy Institute for Patient Care Occupational Therapy Orthotics & Prosthetics Physical Therapy Respiratory Care Services Social Service Speech Language & Swallowing Disorders Clinical Resources MGH Internal Access Only
Patient Care Services


Excellence Every Day represents an MGH commitment to providing the highest quality, safest care that meets or exceeds all standards set by the hospital and external organizations.
Collaborative Governance Magnet Recognition Regulatory Readiness Innovation Units

Other Topics: Anticoagulation | CAUTI | Central Lines | Diversity | Downtime (internal access only)

Ethics | Evidence-Based Practice | Fall Prevention | Pain | Patient Education/Health Literacy | Patient Experience
Practice Alerts & Updates (internal access only) | Pressure Injuries | Process Improvement | Professional Development | Restraints
SUD | EED Home

Epic Documentation | Epic Communication

(internal access only)

Patient Education and Health Literacy
Empowering patients and families to partner fully in their care

QUICK LINKS: Plain Language Consultations | New Efforts | Data Trends | MGH and External Resources

Patient Instructions Activity Tip Sheet


Julie McCarthy, RN

"I first met Mrs. D when she was referred to MGH for anticoagulation management services. She had been diagnosed with new-onset atrial fibrillation (rapid, irregular contractions of the heart). She would need to be managed with Coumadin to keep her blood from clotting....." more...

—Palmie Riposa, RN, Anticoagulation Management Services

Consultations with Blum Center to Improve Patient Education Efforts

Producing patient education materials in plain language has been established as a best practice for years, with special recognition with the Plain Language Act of 2010 ( Yet, ensuring that materials comply with plain language principles can be very challenging.

There are health education experts at the Maxwell & Eleanor Blum Patient Family Learning Center (Blum Center) at Mass General who help identify and provide health education materials that adhere to plain language principles. These experts are available at no cost to assist employees, patients, and visitors.  Any MGH clinician working to find or create an effective educational material for patients and family members is encouraged to contact the Blum Center.

Upon request, Blum Center staff can guide professionals and patients and family where to find materials that have been developed by reputable organizations for a given health topic.  Perhaps most exciting of all, health education experts can also provide a comprehensive report to MGH professionals with suggestions for how to improve a given material’s formatting, content, and overall messaging.  All that is needed is a consultation request form be submitted along with the material to be reviewed.

Creating materials in plain language is a skill that utilizes current cognitive theory and is based in a body of empirical evidence.  Blum Center experts use standardized tools including the Suitability Assessment for Materials (SAM) and the Fry Readability Formula to assess a material for plain language, and subsequently, its likely efficacy for patient education, before and after suggested revisions. 

Request a consultation with Blum Center’s health education experts!  Link to or embed Plain Language Consultation Request Form (attached separately).

For more information about Plain Language Consultation or other services provided by the Blum Center team, contact the Blum Center at (617) 724-7352 or through email

New Efforts in Improving Patient Education

End User Testing: Engaging with Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs)
In 2016, the General PFAC (G-PFAC) formed among its working committees a new Patient Education Committee to work closely with the Blum Center staff as well as the Knight Simulation Program. 

Since February of 2016, members of the committee met monthly with Blum Center staff to review select materials written for patients and families.

The partnership was so successful in the past year that for the year 2017, not only will their review of written materials continue, but additional ways to collaborate with the G-PFAC are being explored.  In 2017, Blum staff may have the G-PFAC review patient education videos newly developed.

“The work we have shared and done together so far has led to some great conversation and dialogue as well as some learning of our own.  The Blum Center can really be a valuable resource … They have certainly helped us as a group to evolve and learn about some important aspects of resources and educating...”-Melissa Hoyt, G-PFAC Member

If you have a patient or a family member who are interested in joining the MGH General PFAC, MGH Cancer Center, Mass General Hospital for Children, Cystic Fibrosis, Oncology, Heart Center or Ambulatory Practice of the Future Councils, please have them email or have them pick up an application and brochure at the Maxwell & Eleanor Blum Patient and Family Learning Center, White Building, First Floor, Room 110.

New MGH Patient and Family Education Materials & Resources Website
Staff have long felt that patient education materials are hard to find on the intranet as well as having too many “clicks” to find the site.  In response to this feedback, the Blum Patient and Family Learning Center in collaboration with the Collaborative Governance Patient Education and Informatics Committees, developed a new intranet website that is easier to find.  The redesigned site highlights MGH-produced patient education materials as well as preferred search engines and databases to find materials.

The intranet site can be accessed through Partners Handbook as in the past but is much easier to access by going to:

   > Partners Applications
   > PCS Clinical Resources
   > MGH Patient and Family Education
   > Materials & Resources.

View the site:


The Data on Health Literacy


HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is a patient satisfaction survey that CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) requires for all US hospitals. HCAHPS Survey Introduction

Tableau Patient Experience Data (Mass General login required)
Open Dashboard

US map

National Health Literacy Data

Policies, Procedures & Guidelines:
(internal access only)
Patient and Family Education

Nursing Practice Guideline on Patient/Family Education

Patient Education Committee
The Collaborative Governance Patient Education Committee (PEC) is a multidisciplinary team that supports clinical staff in developing their role in patient education activities that reflect the diverse patient population served by MGH. This is achieved through stimulating, facilitating and generating knowledge of patient education materials, programs, and resources in order to improve patient care and enhance the environment in which clinicians shape their practice.

The 3 areas of the committee’s focus are patient education, health literacy, and communication, The PEC has created flyers and articles to promote effective patient education, presented seminars on health literacy, and coordinated activities for Health Literacy Awareness Month.

The Patient Education Committee meets the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 1:30-3:00pm in Sweet Conference Room GRB 432.

Collaborative Governance Patient Education Committee Champions

In the News

National and International Trends

Resources Shared by Participants During the October 31, 2013 Health Literacy Twitter Chat Hosted by This list of health literacy resources was generated by participants in a Health Literacy Twitter Chat. It includes links to government and non-government organizations.

New Federal Policy Initiatives to Boost Health Literacy Can Help the Nation Move Beyond the Cycle of Costly "Crisis Care"—Health Affairs, 2012

Health Literacy Healthy People 2020—

Caring for patients with limited health literacy—JAMA 2011

Resources for Patient Education Efforts
MGH Resources
External Resources

HealthStream: (internal access only)

Improving Your Patient/Family Teaching Skills Through the Teach Back/Show Back Method

MGH Contacts:

The Maxwell & Eleanor Blum Patient and Family Learning Center
Phone: 617-724-7352

Collaborative Governance Patient Education Committee Champions

Interpreter Services
Phone: 617-726-6966
Medical Interpretation Tips

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Program

Links to MGH Resources (partial listing)

MGH Patient Education Material Libraries

Library of documents created by MGH subject matter expert clinicians (updated at least biannually)

  • MGH Cancer Patient Education (CaPE)
    CaPE provides information on the different cancer types and cancer care; includes fact sheets on chemotherapy medications, tests and procedures, illustrations and lifestyle management.

Resources in other languages:

Offers medication information in 18 different languages

Care Notes/Drug Notes
Find patient education and/or medication information by keyword search or alphabetical list; can be individualized with special instructions for the patient. ADD: All materials are available in both English and Spanish and staff may choose between basic information and “beyond the basics” information that elaborates on the given topic.

MedlinePlus, Multiple Languages
Health information from the National Library of Medicine. Easy access to Medline and Health topics, medical dictionaries, directories and publications on a variety of health topics in 48 languages

Healthwise is an external vendor for patient educational materials now available directly in Epic. These materials are all available in multiple languages. For tips about selecting and using these materials, see the eCare Tip Sheets

PCOI or Primary Care Office Insite is a repository of many MGH-produced patient education documents as well as care guidelines for clinicians.  Many of the patient education documents have been translated into Spanish.

Additional Toolkits for Assessing Plain Language Use

AHRQ Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit
Resources to improve medication adherence, make action plans, understand health literacy and use written health materials effectively

CDC Health Literacy Page
This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) resource provides information and tools to improve health literacy and public health

Clear Communication: an NIH Health Literacy Initiative
This resource focuses on the various programs and resources that NIH has developed to improve communication between consumers and health professionals.

Joint Commision White Paper:
‘What Did the Doctor Say?’ Improving Health Literacy to Protect Patient Safety
Recommendations from The Joint Commission on improving health literacy to ensure patient safety

National Action Plan To Improve Health Literacy
The National Action Plan To Improve Health Literacy seeks to engage organizations, professionals, policymakers, communities, individuals, and families in a linked, multi-sector effort to improve health literacy.

Talking With Your Older Patient: A Clinician's Handbook
This resource is intended for use by a range of professionals dealing directly with patients. The aim is to introduce and/or reinforce communication skills essential in caring for older patients and their families. Offers practical techniques and approaches to help with diagnosis, promote treatment adherence, make more efficient use of clinicians’ time, and increase patient and provider satisfaction.

Health Literacy Online
This site was created by Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It specifically guides how to create patient education online in a user-friendly format while adhering to plain language.

click here...

There are numerous terms and acronyms in healthcare that may be unfamiliar. Please click here to visit a Glossary of Terms that may be helpful.

This month's featured term: Health Literacy

The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”

Affordable Care Act:
The definition of Health Literacy has evolved over the years. The most recent change came from the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010; the word “communicate” was added. This makes it even clearer that a health literate individual is not a passive receiver of health information but is engaged in an exchange of information. It also underscores that health literacy is not limited to comprehending written information, but includes verbal communication as well.


Joint Commission logo

For many patients, communication may be inhibited by language differences, hearing, visual or cognitive impairments, health literacy, or other disabilities. The Joint Commission has new and revised requirements to improve patient-provider communication that will increase quality and safety through effective communication, cultural competence and patient- and family-centered care. Read more about the eight new and revised elements of here

PC.02.03.01: The hospital provides patient education and training based on each patient's needs and abilities

Magnet Recognition

Magnet_logoThe American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) requires Magnet-designated organizations to track nationally-benchmarked nursing sensitive indicators (NSIs) to continually inform improvement efforts related enhance patient outcomes. Examples of NSIs include, but are not limited to: patient falls, hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, blood stream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and restraint use.

Excellence Every Day represents an MGH commitment to providing the highest quality, safest care that meets or exceeds all standards set by the hospital and external organizations.

If you have questions or suggestions related to the EED portal, please contact Georgia Peirce at (617) 724-9865 or via email at

updated 11/17


Home | Chaplaincy | Excellence Every Day Portal | Institute for Patient Care | Nursing | Occupational Therapy | Orthotics & Prosthetics | Physical Therapy

Respiratory Care | Social Service | Nursing | Speech Language Swallowing Disorders | Clinical Resources | Search PCS | Contact PCS

MGH Home Page | MGH Intranet | MassGeneral Hospital for Children | Partners Healthcare

Massachusetts General Hospital 55 Fruit Street, Boston MA 02114 / (617) 726-2000 / TDD: 617-724-8800