Thursday, October 8, 2015

Health Literacy Month :: 4 Steps to Improve Patients' Health Literacy

4 steps to improve patients' health literacy
More than one-third of U.S. adults have limited health literacy, medical understanding
Fierce Practice Management: 7.20.2015 by Joanne Finnegan

Healthcare providers must take four immediate steps to improve their patients' health literacy and make sure patients understand the health information and instructions they receive, according to a new article in the American Family Physician.

National data indicates that more than one-third of adults in the U.S., or more than 80 million people, have limited health literacy--skills such as reading, writing, numeracy, communication and, increasingly, the use of electronic technology, according to the article. And most patients neglect to tell clinicians that they don't understand the information or may have trouble remembering what they have been told.

Lead author Lauren Hersh, M.D., from the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and her team, recommend steps that organizations can take:

• Use universal health literacy precautions to provide understandable and accessible information to all patients, regardless of their literacy or education levels, such as avoiding medical jargon and breaking down information into small concrete steps

• Prioritize and limit information to three key points or tasks for each patient visit

• Use the teach-back method where the patient explains the new information in his or her own words to assess whether a patient comprehends information

• Simplify forms and offer assistance completing them

A lack of health literacy may mean that patients don't understand the wording on medication bottles, food labels, appointment slips, discharge instructions, informed consent documents, medical forms, insurance applications, medical bills, and health education materials.  READ MORE !

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