Why Clarity in Patient Communications Is Essential
Studies show that patients do better when they understand their health and treatments and can speak frankly with their health providers and caregivers.
Patient advocacy groups encourage talking in plain language, using everyday words, and speaking in easily understandable terms.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act defines health literacy as the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.
Health care organizations are paying more than lip service to the concept of health literacy these days and communicating in jargon-free patient-friendly ways.
But how many?
“Plenty,” says certified health education specialist Stacy Robison, president and co-founder of Communicate Health, a consulting agency on health literacy. “More and more health care organizations are recognizing the importance of clarity in their patient communications,” she says. “It’s critical at the point of care and in the marketplace.”
Health literacy efforts can’t be an afterthought, a one-day training session, or a printed handout, according to Robison, and achieving it won’t happen overnight. The concept needs to be supported by the C-suite and embraced throughout the organization.
In our new article, we hear from leaders at HonorHealth and Johns Hopkins Medicine about how they help their organizations prioritize jargon-free communications and empower patients by speaking to them in language they can understand.
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