Health literacy and patient care
"Nothing — not age, income, employment status, educational level, and racial or ethnic group — affects health status more than literacy skills."
—National Patient Safety Foundation
"Health literacy" is the ability to understand and act on health information. Unfortunately, nearly half of the U.S. adult population has a low level of health literacy.
Those with low health literacy:
- Are less likely to follow treatment instructions and seek preventive care.
- Are also twice as likely to be hospitalized.
Legacy Health, a nonprofit, locally owned organization, is working to improve health literacy, so that we can provide even better care and help patients take care of themselves, while helping lower health care costs and reduce emergency room visits.
A call for health literacy communication
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published The National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy as a call to action across the nation. In the fall of 2010, Legacy established the health literacy initiative.
Our health literacy initiative is becoming a part of our culture as nearly every department affects patient care. Legacy's employees practice new ways of communicating with patients, such as:
- Universal precautions: Use health literacy communication tools with everyone
- Plain language: Using one- to two-syllable words and short sentences, as in a conversation at home
- Teach back: Asking patients to explain in their own words or show what they have been advised to do
- Ask questions: What questions do you have?
Registration now open! Our 2019 Health Literacy Conference is March 21-22, 2019
The eighth annual Oregon and SW Washington Health Literacy Conference Seeking Truth, Inspiring Change is Thursday-Friday, March 21-22, 2019 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.
To learn more about our program content and speakers, visit our conference website.