To get the best health outcomes, decisions related to health should be based on an understanding of clear, accurate and relevant information. But getting a clear understanding of healthcare related information is often easier said than done. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 Americans have limited health literacy skills.
Being able to process health information relates to health literacy and involves more than just knowing how to read and write. The term ‘health literacy’ has been defined by the Institute of Medicine as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”
Low health literacy has many negative associations including higher risk of death along with more emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Further, low health literacy is reported to cost the US $238 billion yearly. There is also a push toward “patient-centered care”, where patients take active roles in their health related decisions to drive better outcomes - which is not viable without the proper information and understanding. For all of these reasons, it is ever more important to improve health literacy.
We have compiled some helpful resources aimed at improving the communication and understanding of health literacy:
- Plain Language Thesaurus For Health Communications
- Quick Guide to Health Literacy and Older Adults
- 'What Did the Doctor Say?:' Improving Health Literacy to Protect Patient Safety
- CDC Guide on Health Literacy
- Health Literacy Online: A Guide For Simplifying the User Experience
As THE Patient Advocate Pharmacy, we aim to empower patients to improve health outcomes overall and every day. Our Pharmacists are available for private, confidential consultations to discuss your treatment plans and help you on the road to recovery.