How To Improve Health Literacy With Visuals

Health Literacy VisualA low level of health literacy affects 90 million people in the United States.  Patients struggle to understand and act on health information that can include following instructions after a doctor’s visit, treating an illness or properly taking medication all of which puts them at a higher risk for health problems.

Patients are often too preoccupied with their symptoms to fully concentrate and process medical information.  All patients, at all literacy levels, need help remembering and understanding what they hear.  Doctors want to communicate clearly, but generally use terminology that is too technical and precise for the patient.  Studies show that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and that 40% of people respond better to visual information better than plain text.

To help improve communication and get a better understanding of health education materials, doctors should include visuals on all forms of health communication.    Visuals closely linked to written text can increase the patient’s attention and recall of the health education information.  They also improve comprehension, especially when presenting information about spatial relationship.

This example displays a great visual representation of how to summarize information as it relates to pills and time of day.  Extensive writing would be necessary to cover the same information shown.  The image visibly communicates health instructions to patients by providing clear medical information that patients and quickly reference.

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The visuals help readers take focus on the most important details and guide them directly to the primary point.  Patients who struggle to understand health information are at a greater risk for health problems, which has a negative effect on the entire health care system.

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