Tag Archives: health literacy

Communicating Health Care Costs in the Patient’s Language

Communicating Health Care Costs in theHow much should you pay for a surgery? How about for an in-office treatment? How do you know what a good price is?

The reality is that the price of the same medical procedure can vary greatly, sometimes because of common-sense factors like location and provider, and sometimes for no obvious reason at all. If patients can see how much a procedure costs at different facilities, they can make a more empowered choice about which treatments to have and where to have them. Continue reading Communicating Health Care Costs in the Patient’s Language

Visual Communication Can Bridge the Health Literacy Gap

Visual Communication Can Bridge the Health Literacy GapLow health literacy–that is, people who have difficulty understanding or following medical instructions, including things like using the healthcare system and correctly dosing medications–leads to all sorts of undesirable outcomes. It makes sense that people with higher health literacy will be more successful at taking care of themselves. In the meantime, it’s important to find ways to communicate more effectively with people who struggle with health literacy. Continue reading Visual Communication Can Bridge the Health Literacy Gap

Do Smart People Make Dumb Patients?

Do Smart People Make Dumb Patients-A while back, The Daily Beast published an article with the provocative title “Why Smart People are Dumb Patients.” The article talks about undeniably brilliant people such as Steve Jobs making ultimately disastrous health care decisions.

Oddly, the article also focuses on smart people who opt for alternative medicine over evidence-based Western approaches. I don’t think this is the best example of why smart people may be dumb patients.  Rather, I think what we’re seeing is the result of intelligent people having an unprecedented access to information through technology, but not necessarily having the guide rails to help them use it properly. Continue reading Do Smart People Make Dumb Patients?

Share Your Patient’s Language

Share Your Patient's LanguageIf you work in health care or health coaching, it’s very tempting to use guidelines to establish goals for patients. But it’s not an effective way to engage people in their self-care.

The fact is, people don’t want to be healthy in order to meet a standard established by a group of medical experts. They want to be healthy to live their lives. It’s not about reaching our goals; it’s about reaching theirs. Continue reading Share Your Patient’s Language

Writing and Formatting for Improved Reader Engagement

TheThere’s probably a complete education rivaling a real college degree available on the web, if only you knew where to find it . . . and had the patience to read it.

The fact is, people read differently on the web than they do in other formats. They scan: 79% of them told Jacob Nielsen that their first move when landing on a new web page is to scan. This means that there’s potentially really great content being left in the dust because page visitors aren’t noticing the deeper meaning when they scan.

Worse, people are classified into three types of web users: readers, scanners, and bottom feeders. Each type is progressively less likely to read in detail than the last, and guess which type is the least common? We readers are going the way of the dodo. Continue reading Writing and Formatting for Improved Reader Engagement

When Health Care Is a Foreign Language: Improving How Patients Navigate the System

If you have poor health literacy, then the average medicine bottle makes as much sense to you as this warning sign did to me when I saw it in Paris. (You are confused.)
If you have poor health literacy, then the average medicine bottle makes as much sense to you as this warning sign did to me when I saw it in Paris. (You are confused.)

It shouldn’t shock you to hear that health literacy is a problem. According to Pfizer, around 90 million Americans struggle with health literacy, which is commonly defined as being able to use health information effectively to obtain appropriate care and make health decisions. Skills under the overarching category of health literacy include reading, numeracy, analytical skills, and decision-making skills. Together, these skills allow a person to use health information appropriately. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that 90% of American adults have difficulty effectively using everyday health information. As you might imagine, poor health literacy is associated with poor health outcomes (Berkman et al., 2004). There are at least four separate issues contributing to the inability of patients to effectively navigate health information:

  • A lack of familiarity with the bureaucratic processes of health care
  • A lack of familiarity with the biological processes of health
  • Confusing terminology that is not personally relevant
  • Badly written or presented information

Continue reading When Health Care Is a Foreign Language: Improving How Patients Navigate the System