We’ve long departed from an apple a day keeping the doctor away as an effective form of health care, but patients can still struggle with understanding and acting on professional advice. That’s why Health Literacy Month (HLM) was founded in 1999: to improve navigation of the health care system and Americans’ understanding of health information overall. In the words of Helen Osborne, founder of HLM, “Health literacy is a shared responsibility between patients and providers. Each must communicate in ways the other can understand.”
Defining Health Literacy
According to the Institute for Health Care Advancement (IHA) studies consistently show that a significant number of people have problems reading, understanding, and acting on health information. HHS’s Healthy People Initiative defines health literacy in two parts:
- Personal health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
- Organizational health literacy is the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
In order to address the above, HHS has created a National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy with 7 goals:
- Develop and disseminate health and safety information that is accurate, accessible, and actionable
- Promote changes in the health care system that improve health information, communication, informed decision-making, and access to health services
- Incorporate accurate, standards-based, and developmentally appropriate health and science information and curricula in child care and education through the university level
- Support and expand local efforts to provide adult education, English language instruction, and culturally and linguistically appropriate health information services in the community
- Build partnerships, develop guidance, and change policies
- Increase basic research and the development, implementation, and evaluation of practices and interventions to improve health literacy
- Increase the dissemination and use of evidence-based health literacy practices and interventions
Taking it a STEPP Further
HHS has organized multiple public meetings with local organizations serving health, education, and social service needs of communities across the nation, which culminated with the following themes emerging from discussions:
How CMT Can Help
The core tenet of CMT Solutions is helping patients access diagnostic testing by improving the system through which providers, labs, and payors interact. A key facet of this is price transparency and providing explanations of benefits to all patients, now a legal requirement as of 2022. This step towards improving health literacy may seem insurmountable given the complexity of the healthcare system, but CMT is in a unique position to help all involved, from patient to physician to heal plan. With the launch of seeQer, we can now provide an AEoB through a Price Transparency Tool that meets the needs of providers, payors, labs, and, most importantly, patients. By partnering with CMT Solutions, your organization can help achieve the goals of Health Literacy Month on an individual and national level!
CMT offers combined expertise in laboratory, technology solutions, and HUB services to help both patients and physicians. It is the market leader in molecular diagnostic patient access, offering prior authorizations, benefits investigation, notifications, genetic counseling, and more.