Health Literacy

I got the opportunity to observe a health literacy class at a community outreach center yesterday. It reminded me just how simple, but critical, this concept is to health care.

It was review day, and the adult learners talked about what they'd learned over the weeks of class.

"When to go to the emergency room, or urgent care, or to call my doctor."

"What I need to do for my health and what my rights are."

"That I need to keep all my health information in a notebook."

"That taking my medicine, eating vegetables and drinking water can help me be healthier." 

I know a lot about health. But health communications needs to meet people where they are. Make it clear and simple. Let them ask questions. You may need to go back and start with the basics -- but using good health literacy practices means people feel respected and involved.

Take the time to understand where your patients are coming from. When they know what to expect, you'll avoid some of the common obstacles.