Improving health literacy has reached a critical point. Nearly nine out of 10 American adults lack the skills required to effectively manage their health and prevent disease. This results in diminished patient care outcomes and increases in spending on healthcare. According to the Center for Health Care Strategies, low health literacy is estimated to cost the U.S. economy up to $236 billion each year. Due to methodological shortcomings to reach selected groups in need, the economic impacts are likely to be even higher.  

With the goal to educate and inform healthcare professionals on how to improve levels of health literacy in their patient populations, Caravan Health, part of Signify Health, is producing a four-part series on the subject. The third white paper in the series addresses the importance of implementing universal precautions to better identify and respond to levels of low health literacy in patient populations.  

Below are six key takeaways from the third paper in the series: 

  1. Health literacy universal precautions are designed to simplify communication, make the office environment and healthcare system easier to navigate, and support patients’ efforts to improve their health.  

  1. Providers should assume that all patients need and want easy-to-understand explanations about their medical problems and what to do about them. 

  1. Patients may not understand how to articulate their needs or be comfortable requesting information from their provider. 

  1. The four domains of health literacy skillsets for health professionals include ways to improve spoken communication, written communication, self-management, and supportive systems. 

  1. There are 12 principals of plain language that every healthcare professional should implement in their daily patient care practice.  

  1. There are formal and informal methodologies to use and implement in order to improve upon the ability to identify and assess health literacy and ensure that patients understand instructions and can comply.  

According to Dr. Ashok Roy, Chief Medical Officer, Caravan Health, “By placing a concerted emphasis on addressing the signs of low health literacy, healthcare teams can have a greater impact on improving their patient’s understanding, leading to improved compliance, and better outcomes.”  

To download this paper click here


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