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:

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If they don’t work in factories or play contact sports, your patients may not think about eye injuries or how to prevent them. Yet thousands of Americans are treated each year for serious eye injuries, nearly half of which occurred at home, according to a recent public survey conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma. Other misconceptions about eye injuries abound. Given that October is Eye Injury Prevention Month, this is a great time to educate your patients on eye injury facts and best practices.Read More

Have you heard this classic riddle before?

A father and son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital; just as he’s about to go under the knife, the surgeon says, “I can’t operate—that boy is my son!”

Who is the surgeon?

Hopefully, the answer is obvious: the surgeon is the boy’s mother. However, the majority of adults answer this question incorrectly. It’s 2016, and women in health care are still fighting for gender equality. This makes it more critical than ever to spread awareness about unconscious gender biases that plague health care professionals and affect your practice’s success. Read on for more about how you can recognize and combat gender biases in your institution.

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In a previous post, we talked about how patient satisfaction surveys can help health care providers improve. As we discussed, certain factors are well within doctors’ control—such as whether they listen and show respect to patients, and if they explain things in a way that’s easy for patients to understand.

We also noted, however, that measuring patient satisfaction is not an exact science. In some cases, this feedback can have a negative impact. Some even blame patient satisfaction surveys for driving up health care costs for everyone. Find out why, and what are the primary reasons that providers are concerned.

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The silent epidemic of doctor burnout is a serious concern plaguing the U.S. health care system today. The proliferation of mechanical and impersonal processes into health services have come at the cost of doctor-patient relationships. Instead of treating patients, doctors are pressed for time and overworked, leading to widespread cynicism in the profession.Read More

Health care is changing. We are seeing a greater focus on patient satisfaction and a shift toward pay-for-performance reimbursement models. These changes require a change in the way doctors operate their practices, from physician-focused to patient-focused.

Many doctors think they are running a patient-focused practice without stopping to consider what that really means, writes medical practice management specialist Owen Dahl in Physicians Practice. For instance, is your schedule designed to accommodate doctors or geared toward patients? Dahl identifies five elements of a patient-focused practice. Read on to find out what they are, and be sure to follow the links to our previously published posts for more information on each topic.

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