Health Literacy Missouri
(HLM) officially launched its newly redesigned website today (10/10/2011) as a tool for
Missouri health professionals to improve communication in their clinics,
hospitals and community organizations.
The website, located at www.healthliteracymissouri.org,
was created using health literacy principles in language and design. It offers
many resources, including a guide for becoming an engaged patient, health
literacy stories from across Missouri and information about HLM’s three core
trainings and plain language translation services.
"The launch of our new
website marks a new direction for Health Literacy Missouri – one clearly
focused on providing health professionals, health system administrators and
community organizations with the tools to make health care clearer and more
accessible for us all,” said David Walsh, HLM interim President and CEO.
HLM, founded in 2009, offers
health literacy trainings with specific techniques to address challenges and
effectively communicate with patients. It may sound simplistic, but in reality,
there are many breakdowns in communication between patients and the health care
system. Doctors may frequently use medical language like "contraindication,”
when in plain language, they mean that a certain medicine or treatment is not
recommended because of its health risks.
Approximately one-third of
adults struggle with low health literacy in the United States. In Missouri, low
health literacy affects 1.6 million adults.
The disconnect between
health care providers and patients is not only a nuisance, but also a potential
danger. Sick patients can easily become worse not understanding the correct
dosage of medicine or knowing what kind of test is needed.
Among those at the highest
risk for low health literacy are adults 65 and older, minorities, immigrants,
low income families and those with chronic mental and/or physical health
conditions. But all of us can have difficulty navigating the health care
disconnect is not only a dangerous issue but a costly one as well.
Based on research from the
John A. Vernon, PhD, from the University of Connecticut and the National Bureau
of Economic Research (NBER), low health literacy costs the nation between $106
billion and $238 billion each year. For Missouri, the number ranges from $3.3
billion to $7.5 billion annually.
HLM helps groups assess their health care
documents for reading level and clarity, create new materials and make their
materials easy to read. Funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health, HLM
provides workshops across the state with the goal of making Missourians
healthier by creating the conditions necessary for clear communication in a
variety of health settings.