Health Literacy Summit 2014
LOW HEALTH LITERACY COSTS 106 BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY
(Weiss, B. “Health Literacy and Patient Safety: Help Patients Understand)
“Finding Commonalities” should have been this year’s theme for Oklahoma’s Second Annual Health Literacy Summit. Dr. Andrew Pleasant from the Canyon Ranch Institute reminded professionals from both realms – literacy and health – that literacy is the single greatest indicator of a person’s health. Commonality and problem solving between patients and health practitioners was repeated frequently.
Community networks that understand the link between low levels of literacy and health can work in partnership to create systems of information for and access to health care. A patient centered approach requires practitioners to consider the principles of health literacy as part of a patient diagnosis and as part of prescription for improved health.
Dr. Pleasant encouraged participants to “change the world.” The ripples that flow from one healthy parent who reads well or one healthy, literate employee are significant. Literacy providers and health practitioners have unique skills that when brought together can create the kind of healthy climate that Oklahoma desperately needs to improve.
The economic impact of a health literate community includes:
- Fewer visits to the emergency room for basic care
- Greater understanding and practice of preventive measures
- Healthy workers means fewer sick days taken
- Healthy students have better attendance
43% of Oklahomans read at basic or below basic literacy levels and are unable to perform more than simple, everyday literacy activities.(National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 2003). The state of Oklahoma’s health currently ranks 44th in the nation.
Health literacy is the use of a wide range of skills that improve the ability of people to act on information in order to live healthier lives. These skills include reading, writing, listening, speaking, numeracy, and critical analysis, as well as other communication and interaction skills. Health literacy allows the public and personnel working in all health-related contexts to find, understand, evaluate, communicate, and use information. (Centre for Health Literacy – Calgary, Canada).