Case Study

How Lehigh Valley enhanced patient education through teach-back

15 Minute Read


The challenge

Current healthcare education practices fail to adequately educate patients about their conditions, their care, and how they can self-manage post-discharge. A review of the literature suggests that up to 80% of information provided by health care practitioners is forgotten immediately, and of the information remembered, nearly half is incorrect.

The organization

Lehigh Valley Health Network is a four-hospital Magnet system headquartered in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The approach

Lehigh Valley developed an exemplary patient education program in which over the course of three days, clinicians ask patients a series of condition-specific and discharge questions to determine their understanding of the information.

The result

Lehigh observed a 24% reduction in readmission rates and a 25% decrease in average length of stay for patients receiving three-day teach-back. The education program helped patients feel psychologically better prepared for discharge, enabling them to go home sooner.



How Lehigh Valley improved patient education

Instead of putting the burden on providers to be exceptional educators, Lehigh Valley’s three-day teach-back program uses the educational technique of “recall” to assess a patient’s level of understanding about their condition and care instructions. Based on a patient’s ability to recall and "teach back" their care instructions, the clinical team is able to identify areas that need to be reinforced.


The three components

Lehigh Valley’s education program has three components that enables its success.

  • Component

    Identify key learner

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  • Component

    Address full spectrum of learning needs

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  • Component

    Hardwire practice into workflow

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How we know it’s working

Lehigh Valley’s controlled study of the program found that three-day integrated teach-back reduced same-cause readmission rates for heart failure patients. It also led to reductions in length of stay, as patients were often ready to safely leave the hospital sooner. Further, nurses reported high satisfaction with the program.

Improved clinical outcomes



Decrease in readmission rates among patients receiving
three-day teach-back intervention


Decrease in average length of stay for patients receiving
three-day teach-back intervention

Improved staff outcomes



Surveyed nurses agreeing or strongly agreeing that Three-Day Integrated Teach-Back had helped them “increase
quality and/or patient safety.”

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