Literacy: “An individual’s ability to read, write and speak…, and compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve one’s goals, and develop one’s knowledge and potential.”
- National Literacy Act of 1991
Health Literacy: “The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”
- Healthy People 2010
“Health literacy includes the ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctor’s directions and consent forms, and the ability to negotiate complex health care systems. Health literacy is not simply the ability to read. It requires a complex group of reading, listening, analytical, and decision-making skills, and the ability to apply these skills to health situations.
Health literacy varies by context and setting and is not necessarily related to years of education or general reading ability. A person who functions adequately at home or work may have marginal or inadequate literacy in a health care environment. With the move towards a more “consumer-centric” health care system as part of an overall effort to improve the quality of health care and to reduce health care costs, individuals need to take an even more active role in health care related decisions. To accomplish this people need strong health information skills.”
- Health Literacy, National Network of Libraries of Medicine
What it means to the health of Americans and the American healthcare system:
“Only 12 percent of adults have Proficient health literacy, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. In other words, nearly nine out of ten adults may lack the skills needed to manage their health and prevent disease. Fourteen percent of adults (30 million people) have Below Basic health literacy. These adults were more likely to report their health as poor (42 percent) and are more likely to lack health insurance (28 percent) than adults with Proficient health literacy.
Low literacy has been linked to poor health outcomes such as higher rates of hospitalization and less frequent use of preventive services…Both of these outcomes are associated with higher healthcare costs.”
- Health.gov: Health Literacy Basics
We believe we can start raising basic understanding of health and healthcare issues using visual and engaging content.
We believe using media and methods of communication that “connect” with people, even for those with low literacy competencies, can create a great foundation for further health understanding.
We have seen our tools help people understand and we are involved in current studies to back up this contention.
Through the use of these tools, we look to help increase both their health and general literacy levels.
Better health literacy > better health understanding > better health choices > better health outcomes > a healthier populace AND lower healthcare costs for us all!
Posted – February 1, 2012