Patient Engagement is Unobtainable Without Health Literacy

Patient Engagement is Unobtainable Without Health Literacy

The current healthcare model places an increased demand on the patient being an active participant in his or her own health.  Patients with low health literacy levels face an increased risk of not being engaged with their health, affecting the quality of care being delivered.  Healthcare providers struggle with delivering materials for patients who come from diverse backgrounds, however, the blame goes beyond the various intellectual differences among patients.  Physicians are routinely overworked, making them unable to spend the necessary time required with each patient to ensure they have a thorough understanding before they leave.  For a patient to be an active participant in their health, the issue of health literacy must be addressed. Patients with low levels of health literacy do not have the ability to make decisions regarding their health.  This is due to their lack of familiarity with medical conditions, combined with their unwillingness to ask questions during medical visits and lack of familiarity with the medical context of provided materials.  To combat this, materials should be written in an organized manner using a simple language that follows the reader’s logic.  The readability level should be at a six-grade level or lower to help eliminate vocabulary that is unfamiliar to the recipients.  Careful consideration must also be taken when translating the materials to a different language to make sure the translation is adapted to target audience’s literacy level. Depending on the technological skills of the audience, video has been shown as an effective tool in combating health literacy issues and increasing patient engagement.  Videos typically have a broader comprehension range and are best for engaging patients who...
Health Education Materials – What You Need To Know

Health Education Materials – What You Need To Know

When in the market for health education materials, you have a wide-range of options.  The numerous vendors and formats available can make the selection process seem like a daunting task.  Even with so many available options, it can be difficult to find materials that are accurate, up-to-date and cost-effective.  A thorough analysis of your target audience is also required to assess their learning and literacy needs.  This will help you to determine the appropriate medium to provide the materials. To be cost-effective, many organizations turn to materials provided at no charge from government agencies, national associations and pharmaceutical companies.  The concern with these materials is sometimes, you get what you pay for.  Many of the materials provided by pharmaceutical companies are simply advertisements for their products.  It is best to choose information from unbiased organizations that are not promoting their own agenda.  If you do choose materials from any of these organizations, it is important that you explain the source to every patient you give it to.  This allows them to make their own decisions regarding the information you provide. Some organizations choose to create their own materials as a low cost way to address a specific need.  Although a popular option, creating your own materials is not as cost-effective as it initially seems.  Once you factor in the time and money to obtain information to reprint, developing the document and printing costs this options is surprisingly expensive. Providing web-based information to patients is a trend that has been growing in popularity, but the risks associated with this option have become an increased concern.  Using information printed from the Internet is...
Print is Still a Necessity for Health Care Marketing

Print is Still a Necessity for Health Care Marketing

We tend to believe in the age of the Internet that there is not a need to have anything printed.  This is especially true when looking at health education materials.  With smartphones, tablets and computers becoming increasingly popular among all populations, the allure to abandon printed materials seems to rise every year.  It may sound tempting, but there are considerable benefits for investing in printed marketing materials for health care organizations. The majority of people do not find reading online as rewarding – or effective – as the printed word.  In fact, a popular study showed that 70% of Americans (including 69% of 18-24 year olds) said they preferred to read print and paper communications instead of reading off a screen. The visual happenings on the screen and one’s physical interaction with the computer are distracting to some.  This makes it harder to concentrate and retain the message, in turn, making the materials less effective. There is still a substantial digital divide between those with access to digital materials and those without.  Even those that do have access might have intermittent or slow connections that make it unlikely for them to be able to utilize digital materials. Whether it is a medical emergency at home or while traveling, a printed health record is easily accessible and can help save lives.  Relying exclusively on digital materials opens up to a surplus of complications, including privacy issues.  Viruses attack, phones break or are lost and stolen, but a booklet remains.  Printed materials that are interactive, long lasting and portable allow individuals to maintain a record of important information they can take with them to...
Patient Engagement Begins with Education

Patient Engagement Begins with Education

If a patient does not have a solid understanding, they cannot be engaged.  Patient engagement must begin with education.  When attempting to educate a patient, many factors will come into play.  The level of health literacy, the learning style of the patient, the ability of the physician to explain and the quality of patient education handouts are all factors in how thorough of an understanding the patient will have when they leave. Health literacy is an issue that spans across all demographics and intelligence levels.  It is the ability to read and understand information about your health and make decisions about it.  Health literacy is critical in patient engagement and motivating them to practice self-management of chronic diseases, medication adherence and care transition.  Because of time constraints, it is common for physicians to provide printed handouts to patients in lieu of offering an extensive explanation.  This leaves a substantial amount of patients without a conclusive understanding of their responsibility to manage their health. People have different learning styles.  Some individuals learn best when being spoken to, others will need to be shown and some just have to do it themselves.   Educating patients with their preferred learning style helps ensure their engagement and understanding of the material.  A physician who struggles with communicating information in terms the patient can understand can even turn off patients with auditory learning styles.  Providing materials for the patient to take home is crucial in ensuring they have a comprehensive understanding of their responsibilities. Many patients will nod in assurance they understand, but leave without any knowledge of even a simple required task such as when to take their...