2017-10-18 15:24:48 UTC

An English Professor Walks into a Doctor’s Office…

Oct. 18, 2017

How literate are your patients about their health?

The 36-year old professor needs a colonoscopy due to anemia and a family history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). He’s attended ivy league schools for the past 10 years. He is given the pre-made instruction sheet on how to prep for the procedure and sent on his way. When he comes in for his procedure, it’s found that his bowel prep was inadequate and he needs to be rescheduled. 

A common misconception is that those who are educated will naturally understand medical terminology. Don’t let assumptions cost you time, money and, ultimately, negative patient outcomes. 

October is Health Literacy Awareness Month. It’s an opportunity to reflect on assumptions that sometimes happen at point of care. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 12 percent of U.S. adults have proficient health literacy. This means that the vast majority of patients are not comfortable with medical terms or how their bodies work. This impacts how they manage their health, take prescribed medicines and prepare for procedures. 

Take steps to make sure every patient understands what steps they need to take to get the best care possible.

The CDC recommends to:

  • Provide information people can understand and use most effectively with the skills they have. 
  • Build your own skills as a communicator of health information. See Find Training for free, online options.




More on Patient access to care

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Building an IBD Specialty Clinic from the Ground Up

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Gastro One in Tennessee developed an IBD clinic within their practice, which decreased emergency room visits by 70 percent.