Putting the patient at the center of their healthcare is a top priority in the industry's shift to value-based care. Giving individuals the appropriate access and ownership of their health data and information is the first step in empowering them to advocate for their care. While sometimes the data itself is accessible, it's not always presented in a manner that's easy to understand due to the complexity, codes, and medical jargon.
What is health literacy?
Health literacy is how much an individual can understand and use the information provided to make informative health decisions. Poor health literacy is linked to increased health services usage, fewer people understanding their health, and worse overall health outcomes.
Why is health literacy important?
Understanding clinical language can be difficult for multiple reasons, including the complexity of the healthcare infrastructure and medical terminology. Patients with chronic diseases, poor education, low income, and non-fluent English speakers are more likely to have challenges with health literacy in the US. These barriers affect the quality of care received, patient safety, patient satisfaction, and health outcomes.
The Hospital Transparency Act was set into place as of January 1, 2021, requiring every hospital in the nation to provide public pricing of services in plain language to aid in making informed health decisions and improve health literacy.
Translating medical jargon to consumer-friendly language to improve transparency and health literacy
Consumer-friendly terminology is critical for healthcare providers and health plans to enable consumers to comprehend the language that their providers use and to take charge of their health. Descriptions should enable non-clinical individuals to easily understand healthcare information being relayed by their providers and clinicians. They could be used in the information patients or their family or other caregivers could receive on an after-visit summary, patient instructions, explanation of benefits, or on their bill from a health organization or insurance provider.