According to studies, only 12% of the U.S. population has proficient health literacy, and in a crisis, their health literacy skills often decrease. To help reach patients and families where they are and improve the patient experience, here are four things you can do for patients of all health literacy levels.
4 Health Literacy Approaches That Can Improve the Patient Experience :
Use universal precautions. Start with the assumption that everyone might have difficulty when accessing and using our complex health care organizations. It’s easy to assume that because a patient is well-educated or affluent that they will be able to understand the medical issue at hand.
Apply user-centered design. Involving members of the intended audience when designing and evaluating communication materials and products improves understanding and outcomes.
Use plain language. Everyday words allow you to meet patients where they are and can help explain more involved concepts.
Teach back. Having patients explain a concept or direction back to you gives you the opportunity to clarify in another way if needed. Teach back is not parroting—patients should be demonstrating their understanding in their own words.
While each of these techniques seems simple enough, instituting them can be challenging. Health Literacy Partners can assess your organization’s strengths and weaknesses, and develop a plan to implement these and other techniques in your organization.
Contact us to discuss how we can help you.
 Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.