Health and Information Literacy Issues

by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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    00:01 Today, we're diving deeper into the complex intersection of how people access and communicate health information using technology.

    00:09 Now we'll do this from the perspective of patients.

    00:11 We'll talk about definitions, interactions, training and technology adaptations, among others. Well, let's start with the patients.

    00:20 The beating hearts of the health care world.

    00:22 One of the most challenging aspects of being in health care is trying to listen and understand the needs of our patients.

    00:29 In addition to thinking about barriers to communication such as hearing or auditory concerns, our patients may also experience difficulties with reading literacy.

    00:39 Not having the skill set to read the written word is a huge barrier to communication.

    00:44 Now, on top of all of those, a crucial component of the exchange of health related information between patients and providers is the amount of health and information literacy our patients have.

    00:56 Health literacy.

    00:57 According to the World Health Organization, entails people's knowledge, motivation and competencies to access, understand, appraise and apply health information.

    01:08 For instance, consider an average patient with hypertension.

    01:12 When this patient has a good health literacy, they're better equipped to comprehend their condition and understand the importance of medications and lifestyle changes, and most importantly, follow their treatment plans effectively.

    01:25 However, when health literacy is lower, the patient may struggle to understand medical terms. They could feel confused about complex medical regimens and ultimately feel unprepared to engage in the communication about their needs.

    01:40 Once you consider how impactful different levels of health literacy can be on the quality of communication between patients and providers, take this insight one step further. Even patients with good health literacy may struggle with the more specific form of technology literacy.

    01:57 This skill relates to an individual's ability to use, manage, and understand information through technological means.

    02:05 In a health care context.

    02:07 Consider a patient with hypertension.

    02:09 He may understand his disease, be interested and motivated to follow the treatment plan, but not have the technological skills to use a patient portal to schedule appointments, check lab results, or communicate with providers.

    02:23 So what can we do about these issues and what do they have to do with care, coordination or quality? If we don't consider the literacy aspects of communication of health information, care coordination will suffer.

    02:36 Assessing, diagnosing, planning, implementing and evaluating interventions to address the literacy concerns means that the patient and provider can communicate with each other more clearly.

    02:48 This clarity means quality and coordination of care is effective and efficient.

    02:54 So here are just a few ideas.

    02:56 First, address how accessible your health care organizations information is.

    03:00 For instance, a visually impaired patient should be able to access medical information through a screen reader or voice over functions.

    03:09 Second, consider whether your patients have access to information literacy training that will help them locate, evaluate, and use information effectively.

    03:19 Now, sometimes this can be as simple as a large image and font on a printed handout with steps, or as complex as a live session for patients on how to discern reliable health information online.

    03:33 Third, maximize the informatics resources available to ensure the system has as many technology adaptations as it can to increase accessibility.

    03:42 For instance, larger text options can help those with vision impairments, while audio descriptions can assist those with hearing impairments.

    03:51 You want some ideas for working with patients one on one that you can use right now. Well, providers can leverage technology to maximize health education by using visual aids during telehealth visits, writing easy to understand electronic communication, or sharing patient friendly online resources.

    04:09 These approaches can make health information more digestible for patients of varying literacy levels.

    04:16 In summary, literacy, technology, and accessibility are key in shaping a patient's health journey.

    04:23 By understanding these concepts, you as a health care professional can better facilitate patient engagement and health outcomes.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Health and Information Literacy Issues by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN is from the course Healthcare Informatics.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Voice-over functions and larger text options on client portals for people with low vision.
    2. Giving clients warnings weeks in advance before switching to an electronic-only booking system.
    3. Giving clients a list of places to use the client portal to access the internet.
    4. Helping clients who do not want to use an online portal find new providers less reliant on technology.
    1. People with low health literacy may often feel unprepared to communicate their needs.
    2. People who have high health literacy also have high technology literacy.
    3. The client’s responsible for addressing and improving their low health and technology literacy.
    4. People with low technology literacy should be given only electronic resources to help them improve their technology skills.

    Author of lecture Health and Information Literacy Issues

     Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

    Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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