Improving Health Literacy the Target of New National Strategy
Anational plan to improve health literacy calls for replacing the jargon-filled language and complex explanations often found in patient handouts, medical forms and patient websites with easier-to-understand information.
Released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in late May, the plan's recommendations include seven goals aimed at improving health literacy, which is defined as the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Only 12 percent of English-speaking adults in the United States have proficient health literacy skills, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
"Health literacy is needed to make health reform a reality," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Without health information that makes sense to them, people can't access cost-effective, safe and high-quality health services."
She said HHS alone cannot improve health literacy and needs providers and payers "to communicate clearly and make the necessary changes to improve their communication with consumers, patients and beneficiaries."
The health literacy action plan's goals emphasize the importance of creating health and safety information that is accurate, accessible and easily acted upon. …