One factor that impacts the skyrocketing costs of healthcare is the rate of health literacy, or perhaps I should say, the incredibly low rate of health literacy. In the United States, only 12% of adults are considered to have “Proficient” health literacy. In other words, a full 88% of Americans are not sufficiently health literate to comprehend healthcare issues.
Healthcare IT News recently posted a slideshow describing the tremendous increase in insurance premium costs just since 2003. The average family’s healthcare premium increased 150% from 2003 to 2010. Using this rate of increase, they also show that by 2020, consumers will pay a whopping 257% more than they did in 2003.
Tie these facts together with the following amazing findings from Edelman’s “Health Barometer: Global Findings 2011” where they surveyed more than 15,000 people in 12 countries (5,000 in the U.S.):
- Social influences are among the top motivators of health behavior change
- Digital tools work to drive health change, but not enough companies are promoting their use
- More frequent consumers of health information choose healthier behaviors
- Consumers see government, businesses, and healthcare providers/insurers as out of sync with their priorities
- Activating health is seen by 83% of businesses, globally, as an imperative, but businesses and government are seen to have a negative influence on health
- Health engagement drives purchases, recommendations, and investment
Financial health costs are high and going higher, basic health literacy is woefully low, and traditional sources of healthcare are seen as “out of sync” with consumers’ healthcare needs. We need to stretch outside of our traditional health education boxes and find new ways to help people understand and manage their health and healthcare.
If we listen to what consumers are saying, they are, in fact, already telling us what they want and need.
Connected tools, including smart phones, tablet computers, and assorted video and social media tools are being gobbled up and are driving tremendous social change. As people are much more likely to engage in healthy choices and lifestyles if there’s a social component involved, we in healthcare need to heighten and broaden the use of today’s technology to impact healthcare.
People want and enjoy games, video, and social media. We must greatly expand our use of such tools to enable health understanding, care, and outcomes. Tie these with the power of storytelling, rather than just dry, dull facts and figures, and we can engage people – people of all ages and of virtually any literacy level – in ways we never could before.
Improved health literacy, increased health engagement, and lower healthcare costs – all possible if we give people what they need, how they need it, using tools they actually enjoy. We just need some “new wave” healthcare thinking to go along with all these fancy, new connected tech tools.
Posted – March 21, 2012