Workshop B

Health Literacy: Patient Education + Marketing = Effective Communication

The purpose of this course is to prepare individuals and organizations to deliver understandable, actionable health information that meets the needs of a diverse patient population while aligning with a hospital’s brand standards.

It is estimated that one third to one half of all adults read at a 5th-grade level (National Patient Safety Foundation, 2020). In recognition of this health disparity risk, the Plain Language Writing Act of 2010 requires that federal agencies use clear communications that the public can understand and use. This is also a requirement for successful attainment of accreditation by regulatory agencies such as The Joint Commission and Det Norske Veritas (DNV) standards.

Health care providers and hospital communications teams must understand and appreciate the importance of health literacy concepts and best practices to more effectively deliver health care and health information that meets the needs of learners with diverse backgrounds and varying levels of health literacy. Simply put, information you give your patients is useless if they can’t understand it.

Patients and caregivers have different levels of education and literacy, language preferences, and cultural differences, among other variables that can impact health. These qualities, collectively known as health literacy, are essential to a person’s capacity to obtain, process, and use basic health information to make appropriate health decisions. Health care providers and institutions share a responsibility to deliver health information clearly and effectively. Substantial evidence exists showing correlations between content that is not created with health literacy in mind and negative health outcomes and health care disparities (Healthy People 2030). The recent pandemic has illustrated very clearly how important it is to have clear, concise, and understandable health information.

In addition to health education, health care marketing communications teams can better serve patients by applying principles of health literacy to their content. Health-literate marketing can help consumers find the right service at the right time and improve the patient journey from their very first experience with your practice or institution. And drawing on the strengths of both health literacy and marketing communications concepts can make content even stronger.