January 20, 2018

Patient Education and Literacy

Health Literacy: The Need Exists…

Every day, patients are asked to make difficult medical choices that they are not qualified to make. For these reasons, healthcare professionals often provide patients with health information that is comprehensive, but often seen as confusing and uninviting. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association[5] (JAMA), only 9 percent of clinical decisions made during patient-physician interactions meet the criteria for informed consent.

The major obstacle to achieving a more informed and active healthcare consumer is the lack of basic health literacy in the United States[2]. – Council of State Governments

Data suggests that most patients fail to maximize the benefits during interactions with the healthcare system because they lack the knowledge to do otherwise. Why? Because uneducated patients have limited options and their ability to achieve their most desired medical outcomes are significantly diminished. For these reasons, less than optimal medical outcomes are the result, and medical litigation is on the rise; limiting access to quality care for all.

Low health literacy is a silent and costly epidemic…

The AMA Foundation estimates that nearly 90 million Americans (46% of the adult population) are unable to read or understand medical education handouts, instruction forms, consent forms, or history questionnaires. These patients may be unable to follow recommended health guidelines, take medications as directed, or monitor basic symptoms.

Limited literacy skills are a stronger predictor of health status than age, income, employment status, education level, or racial or ethnic group. – Partnership for Clear Health Communications

Patients with low literacy skills typically have poorer health, consume more health care resources, have more frequent doctor visits and longer hospital stays. Recent studies show that as little as 10% of the population consumes 80% of the resources[24], which amounts to an estimated $73B in unnecessary medical expenditures every year[6]. In addition, the total cost of obesity exceeded $117 billion[4] in 2000 alone. Expenditures are unknown for Intangible and other important costs such as unnecessary human suffering, pain and frustration, less time with family and friends; and anxiety about the future.

Although these costs are excessive and largely preventable, current trends suggest that these problems will persist as long as patients are asked to assume more responsibility for self-care while their health literacy levels remain low, and available tools continue to miss the mark.

A Viable Alternative…

PHIERS can help the healthcare industry improve the quality, impact and reach of “actionable” health information in a manner acceptable to most health care information consumers, including special needs groups like the elderly, low income and racial/ethnic populations.

PHIERS will make it easy for patients to access, understand, and act on the information provided to them by their caregivers, which will allow providers to focus on the “quality” of care, rather than the “quantity” of information transferred.

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