Thursday, October 12, 2017

Health Literacy :: Not All Patient Education is Created Equal

Health Literacy—Not All Patient Education is Created Equal
HealthWise: 9.21.2017 by Christy Calhoun, Senior Vice President, Consumer Health Experience

We live in a time of information overload. Health consumers are bombarded with tweets, alerts, fake news, contradictory studies, and more. So, if everyone can access information 24/7, why is health literacy still a problem? Because people can feel overwhelmed, uncertain about what sources to trust, and unable to make decisions or take action to care for their health.

Health literacy is a widespread challenge in the U.S., as these statistics show:

What is the impact of low health literacy?
The Institute of Medicine defines health literacy as “the degree to which people can obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and services they need to make appropriate health decisions.” Patients and families frequently lack relevant, accurate medical evidence and skilled guidance at the time of medical decision making.iv It can be challenging for people with low health literacy to seek preventive care, understand and follow treatment plans, or take medicines correctly. This can lead to confused patients, frustrated clinicians, overuse of the emergency department, and ultimately higher costs.

What are the key components of an effective patient education solution?
Content that’s easy to understand
Unbiased and evidence-based information
Teach with visuals
Personal, relevant, and helpful

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