U of Missouri health policy experts: Make health information easy for patients to understand

Researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine's Center for Health Policy are uncovering the benefits of improved health literacy for patients and providers, according to a University of Missouri School of Medicine report.

"Health literacy can improve the value of care for everyone," said Karen Edison, MD, director of the MU Center for Health Policy and contributing author of the report. "When patients are given health information in a way they can understand, they tend to make better health decisions."

The report used previous evidence-based research to show how health literacy can reach the goals of the Quadruple Aim, which is based on enhancing quality of care, improving community health, reducing health costs, and improving patient and provider experiences.

The report gathered data from interviews with health literacy professionals and a survey the researchers conducted to learn about existing educational programs. The interviews and survey focused on community health and how improved health literacy influences patient and provider experiences.

"We found that low health literacy is a contributing factor for readmission for chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer," said Stan Hudson, associate director of the MU Center for Health Policy and lead author of the report. "From an ethical standpoint, it also plays a vital role in equitable care. Health literacy helps ensure the best quality of care for everyone."

"Improving health literacy will involve working with providers to communicate more effectively," said Dr. Edison. "We need to create opportunities for patients to understand their care as they navigate the healthcare system."

Read the full report here

More articles on patient engagement:
Study: Rural patients face higher hospital mortality rates than urban counterparts
Poll: Half of physicians, nurses delay giving patients bad news
When physicians say 'no' to requests, patient satisfaction suffers

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