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What is Health Literacy?

By June 7, 2019 No Comments

The word literacy itself is defined as the ability to read, write, speak, listen, and use numeracy and technology to make decisions and solve problems.

In healthcare, health literacy is the capacity of an individual to obtain, process, and comprehend basic health information to make rational health choices, and improve the provider-patient relationship.

As defined above, health literacy is very broad and includes several skills. Numeracy is one of them, for example calculating blood sugar levels, measuring the adequate dosage of medications, understanding labels, all of those require math skills.

Health information could be very confusing, even people with advanced literacy skills struggle often with medical terms. Using simple language to define technical terms is always advised, as well as organizing information so that the most important points come first.

Another thing to take into consideration is language competency. Individuals with limited English proficiency have a barrier to access health information. It is advisable to communicate health information in their primary language.

According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 12 percent of adults have proficient health literacy, fourteen perfect of adults have below basic health literacy, and are more likely to lack health insurance. Older adults, racial and ethnic minorities, people with less than a high school degree or GED, people with low-income levels, and people with compromised health status.

Improving Americans health care literacy is not an easy task, but having the right tools in your clinic and incorporating technology will make it easier, and more accessible for everyone.

*source: https://health.gov/communication/literacy/quickguide/factsbasic.htm

SyncTimes makes capturing accurate workflow data possible, communicating wait times and staff interactions. This information immediately improves provider and care team communication about the real-time status of the workflow.

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