There is much notable advancement in the healthcare industry that has led to improved patients’ health and general lives. Most healthcare providers now face the challenge of ensuring the patients understand their medical conditions and treatment plans.
What is health literacy? This is simply how people get to understand different health matters. Health literacy remains an issue, and its lowness has cost the entire healthcare industry $238 billion annually? Why? It’s because most patients have no understanding of what the health care providers need from them. Therefore, they ignore what they don’t understand. And this leads to the improper taking of medications that resulted in repeat visits to health facilities that could have been avoided with health literacy. But then focusing on health literacy will help in filling this gap.
Due to Health Literacy Month celebrations, we have listed five ways in which health literacy will improve patients’ understanding and health outcomes.
Use of Plain Language
Health professionals will want their patients to comprehend the information the first time they hear or read about it. They should use clear language, breaking the complex medical terms into simple terms which patients can easily understand:
Health-illiterate content usually includes:
- The essential or need-to-know information
- Use of short words
- Use of brief sentences with only one main point in each sentence
- Use of an active voice
- Has a clear indication of the actions the user should take
Know About the Caregivers and Patients Experiences
Most patients will want to know both the new and complicated aspects of their health. They will want to weigh choices and use them to make critical decisions. But more often, they are often stressed while doing it, and people usually resist what stresses them or what they can’t understand.
Someone who has just been diagnosed may become overwhelmed, and a child’s parent could panic while friends or family members could be confused. These are people of different groups, and health information should not enhance their stress or make them disengage or pull away. Instead, it should enable them to understand that they are equipped better to make critical health decisions with the help of their medical health professionals.
Use of Design efficiently
Images and graphics are important when enforcing important ideas. For instance, medical illustrations can show a disease, teach anatomy, or even a medical procedure. Create an easy to follow page layout to ensure health literacy and the information should be logically shaped and have a good flow.
Write while considering the reading level
Over 50% of adults cannot read eighth-grade level stuff and, therefore, ensure the reading level is the sixth grade or below to favor all patients. This won’t mean downgrading the patients but rather ensuring clarity and straightforwardness so that patients will know you care about their health.
Use Teach-back method
The patients should provide a summary to ensure they have understood what they just learned. You can achieve this by posing some questions at the end of the interaction, and it’ll help them understand the expectations the health professional has on them.
With clear education, patients will be better places in managing their chronic conditions, recovering faster after injuries, surgeries, and improving their overall health.