October is health literacy awareness month. Historically communication in healthcare has been challenging and stressful. As an organization in healthcare IT, we want to help eliminate that stress, and disconnect patients sometimes feel with their healthcare system. We have a responsibility to provide patients with tools that will help them come to more informed decisions about their treatment pathway. To do that, we have created, within our ePRISM tool, informed consent and patient education documents for the individualized patient.
This year’s theme for Health Literacy month is “Be a Health Literacy Hero.” It speaks to taking action, now, to improve healthcare communications presently and in the future. At HOS we are taking the action to provide patients with materials such as personalized informed consent documents, that will help them better understand their personal risks. We calculate these risks based on each individual’s profile and history. We then clearly state these risks in an easy to understand document, that uses images and plain language to be sure that patients are actively involved in the decision making process. The concept of “shared decision making” is beginning to become a more common term in healthcare, and our program helps providers become catalysts in this environment.
“Shared decision making” is about bridging the gap between patient and physician. As the healthcare system shifts from the concept of volume to value, we want to help the patient become involved, and let them, with the guidance of the physician, choose what treatment path they find the most value in. We were actively involved in a study, to find out if these informed consent documents truly helped patients better understand their risks and treatment options. The link below shows the positive results that came from this study.
We will continue to work to identify problems in communication, and work toward solutions. We encourage all in healthcare to become a health literacy hero as well, and to discover ways to solve communication problems in healthcare.
Read more about how ePRISM improves shared decision making: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4315511