From the LG Health Patient Education Task Force
 
Patients enter our doors each day without the ability to read, understand and effectively act on the health information we provide to them. Regardless of education level, these individuals have limited health literacy, as defined by the Institute of Medicine.
 
According to the American Medical Association’s report on Health Literacy and Patient Safety, health literacy is a stronger predictor of individual health status than age, income, employment status, education level or racial/ethnic group.
 
Not surprisingly, this is a significant concern, as limited health literacy affects people's ability to:

  • Navigate the healthcare system, which includes filling out complex forms and locating providers/services

  • Share personal information, such as health history, with clinicians

  • Engage in self-care and chronic-disease management, increasing the risk for medication and self-care errors

  • Understand mathematical concepts, such as probability and risk

This concern impacts the vast majority of Americans, including our patients here at LG Health.
 
A national focus on health literacy
The Joint Commission, American Medical Association, CDC and other organizations have recognized the critical need to address health literacy. LG Health’s Patient Education Task Force is acting on their recommendations by developing, implementing and evaluating a patient education system that is coordinated across the care continuum. 
 
Assessing health literacy
With the Epic upgrade in May, the evidence-based Single Item Literacy Screener was added to the rooming or admitting process for each patient who receives treatment within LG Health. This question will be asked of all patients age 18 and older annually in ambulatory and upon each inpatient admission.
 
This question is scored on a 5-point Likert scale:
 
"How often do you need to have someone help you when you read instructions, pamphlets or other written material from your doctor or pharmacy?"
 
0 = Unable to Assess, 1 = Never, 2 = Rarely, 3 = Sometimes, 4 = Often, 5 = Always
 
A score of 3-5 reflects Limited Health Literacy, while a score of 1-2 reflects Adequate Health Literacy.  This result will appear in the Epic Header to inform staff members and prompt the use of alternate educational methods if necessary.
 
Optimizing patient education materials in Epic
LG Health contracts with Healthwise to provide easy-to-read educational materials across the system.  To achieve a coordinated education system and improve transitions of care, please utilize these materials when educating patients.
 
These offerings include:

  • Patient instructions (accessed in Epic: Clinical References Activity or Discharge Activity) available in English, Spanish and as Multiple Languages Patient Instructions

  • Healthwise Knowledgebase (Health Library) for MyLGHealth and www.lghealth.org (English only)

More than 450 videos in both English and Spanish will be added to our offerings this year.                                           

Looking ahead
The Patient Education Task Force will roll out the following initiatives over the next year:

  • A formalized document review policy and process to ensure that patient and family education print materials are developed, revised or selected using health literacy guidelines, including content, graphic design, layout and readability

  • Training in the teach-back method of education and motivational interviewing

  • Formalized process for feedback on Healthwise materials                   

Stay tuned for health literacy-related activities coming to your practice. We need to work collaboratively as a healthcare organization to remove barriers to better, safer care.                    
 
Please address questions to Maribeth LeBreton DNP, CRNP, APRN-BC, mslebret@lghealth.org, or Jessica Klinkner MPH, CHES, jklinkner2@lghealth.org.

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