Since 1999, organizations from around the world come together every October to observe Health Literacy Month. October is a time to bring attention to the importance of making health information easy to understand and accessible to all. Not only does this make the health care system easier to navigate, but it also sets a precedent for a health education standard in our country.
Want to learn more about health literacy?
What is health literacy and why is it so important? Check out these U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) agency resources here:
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
- Indian Health Service (IHS)
- Immediate Office of the Secretary (IOS)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH)
How can you celebrate health literacy month?
The HHS Health Literacy Workgroup, comprised of representatives from multiple HHS agencies, collaborates each year to ensure improving health literacy remains a priority. In encouraging everyone to participate in health literacy activities, the workgroup has comprised of the following idea list for health care professionals interested in engaging:
- Take an online health literacy course.
- Watch this health literacy video with your colleagues and use these questions to discuss it.
- Shadow a patient to find out how they experience your practice flow and communication.
- Encourage patients to ask questions — try using Ask Me 3.
- Practice the teach-back method.
- Post this list of key communication strategies on exam room walls as a reminder.
- Challenge yourself and your colleagues to take this health literacy quiz.
- Read up on plain language and make a list of words you’ll never use again with patients.
- Reach out to your state health literacy coalition.
- Teach your patients to use their personal health record.
- Share the myhealthfinder tool with patients so they can get easy-to-understand, personalized health recommendations.
- Use the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool to see if the health education materials you give to patients are easy to understand.