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The Importance of Health Literacy During a Pandemic

Health literacy is not something most people take time to brush up on during their busy schedules. However, now may be the perfect time to do so. For those unfamiliar, health literacy is the level to which a person can obtain, process, and understand essential health services and information needed to make necessary health decisions. Those unable to understand medical terminology are at risk of not making the appropriate health decisions, which can have severe consequences.

In this article, we’ll discuss health literacy, how to benefit from it, and how to improve your overall healthcare experience.

What Can Impact a Person’s Health Literacy Level?

According to experts at the CDC, health literacy is key to processing information and communicating needs and preferences in situations where critical decisions are needed. Several things can negatively impact one's health literacy: lack of educational opportunities, disabilities, cognitive declines, language barriers, and economic factors. Right now, there are a few populations at greater risk for limited literacy, including seniors, immigrants, minorities, and low-income communities.

A person’s inability to read or write can also affect their overall lifestyle, including income level, housing, education, and occupation. Socioeconomic status is known to have a crucial impact on a patient’s health. A patient suffering from illiteracy or income inequality has a higher chance of being exposed to unsafe conditions and environments, thus impacting their health knowledge, status, and access to services. While this may seem overwhelming, there are many ways to improve a person's health literacy.

How Health Professionals Can Improve Health Literacy

Health literacy is vital for patients as well as healthcare personnel, especially during a global health crisis. Healthcare professionals are required to help patients understand their medical issues and care options. A physician must expand upon their own health literacy by continuously learning ways to simplify complicated medical terminology; this will ultimately help patients learn and improve upon their health literacy.

Clear communication practices, excellent bedside manner, and the removal of literacy barriers equal better healthcare professionals, well-informed patients, and improved care.

Ways to improve literacy of patients are as follows:

- Ask open-ended questions to assess a patient's literacy level.

- Use the Teach-Back & the Show-Back methods to establish an understanding of the information or task performance.

- Use concise and straightforward language; try to avoid medical jargon.

- Speak slowly and clearly, but be respectful.

- Use pictures in exchange for long written instructions.

- Remember your body language and maintain eye contact.

- Lastly, ask the patient if they have any questions. Form a dialogue.

Interested in Helping Your Community?

Being a medical assistant or patient care technician means positively impacting your community and helping patients improve their health literacy. At Woodruff Medical Training and Testing, we provide the best training possible. Our experienced instructors give you detailed instruction, class time, and hands-on training outside of the classroom.

Are you interested in learning more about our program? Interested in starting your career? Visit our site for information regarding our school, and contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your future.

Start your medical career today. Call 1-833-WMT-4-EDU