The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act defines health literacy as the “degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions,” and unfortunately, low health literacy is a growing problem in today’s health care climate. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 22 percent of adults have only basic health literacy and 14 percent have below basic health literacy. And because health literacy is a strong indicator of health status, low literacy is linked with poor health outcomes and higher rates of hospitalization.
It is up to health care providers to ensure that patients with low health literacy are identified and given the tools they need to understand their options. But what can you do to overcome these obstacles and better communicate with your patients? The answer is effective and easy-to-understand patient education.
Lucky for you, we are here to help. October is health literacy month and the 2016 theme is “Be a Health Literacy Hero.” To help you be a hero to your patients, we have gathered together six tips to educate your patients and overcome the obstacles posed by low health literacy: