Healthcare vocabulary, complex concepts, and technical terminology can be overwhelming for patients and affect patient adherence. For those with poor basic health literacy and numeracy skills even understanding the basic elements of a prescription regimen can be challenging and helps increase the risk for medication error. ECRI’s three suggested target areas can be used to structure efforts to incorporate health literacy initiatives into a patient-centered culture:
• Target 1: Determine a patient’s health literacy level by assessing language preferences and needs through a health literacy assessment and document in the patient’s medical record
• Target 2: Deliver clear and personalized health information using a teach-back communication; simple, standardized medication direction; education on reading a prescription medication label; and consider use of a pill card
• Target 3: Ensure policies and practice reflect health literacy initiatives by using leadership tools for leadership buy-in and include health literacy in organizational initiatives; develop culturally and linguistically competent policies and procedures; design and implement a systematic medication management program; encourage team-based techniques; and substitute everyday words for medical “jargon”
To learn more and access more resources mentioned above, see the guidance article Health Literacy and the tools Health Literacy: Handout for In-Person Communication and Health Literacy: Checklist for Creating or Evaluating Materials. All are FREE on the ECRI Risk Management website for which membership is required. Still not a member? Attend a free, live demo of the ECRI website by emailing or calling (610) 825-6000, extension 5200.