October is Health Literacy Month
Health literacy is perhaps the most taken for granted and underdeveloped skill that patients, healthcare professionals, providers, and even health insurers have at their disposal.
At every essential point of a patients’ journey there is an opportunity for health literacy to produce well-informed healthcare choices for the decisions that impact healthcare costs.
Conversely, the risk of poorly informed healthcare decision-making is expected with underdeveloped health literacy. In fact, “low health care literacy and rising complexity are costing the U.S. health care industry $10 billion a year in administrative costs,” according to BenefitsPro.
A skilled health literacy practitioner seizes opportunity for savings
Skill development, like with any healthcare practice, is needed to fully seize the opportunity of health literacy cost savings. According to the CDC, Healthy People 2030’s recently redefined health literacy into two parts – personal and organizational:
- Personal health literacy: The degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
- Organizational health literacy: The degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
Whatever side of opportunity you find yourself on – whether as the patient or organization – you have a level of health literacy skill that directly influences your healthcare costs and outcomes.
Below are three health literacy skill development tips to help get you started in the journey to find, understand, and use health information as a pathway to improve health outcomes while avoiding unnecessary costs.
Finding / Providing Health Information and Services
Organizations are encouraged to develop a health literacy action plan that focuses on improving provider-patient communication, delivers accurate and actionable health information, speaks to all applicable language(s) and incorporates the proper channels for health literacy education and skill development.
The amount of misleading health information that currently threatens healthcare consumers is dangerous and costly. Individuals are encouraged to establish a trusted source of health information.
Learning / Teaching Health Information and Services
A good health literacy action plan communicates teachings at multiple touchpoints. Managed Healthcare Executive reports that “55% of healthcare consumers do not know they can compare treatment or service costs before choosing where to get care.”
The easier it is for people to access and learn about critical health information at an opportune moment, the greater the chances are that a well-informed health literacy choice will be made.
Using Health Information and Services
Individuals and organizations can help one another by working together to produce a culture that promotes the development and refinement of health literacy. To get the most value and use out of your healthcare dollars it is important that every available resource be used.
For example, health analytics can help identify those with chronic conditions (who are two times more likely to visit the emergency room than those with high literacy) to provide targeted health literacy communication and education.
Health literacy is a high-return, low-risk skill that individuals and organizations can develop and use to improve health costs and outcomes.
In support of health literacy and health literacy awareness month, we are sharing the Health Literacy Solution Center where you can access:
- Online Training
- Health Literacy Specialist Certificate
Learn how APH utilizes health analytics to support various health initiatives and health outcomes.