AMA Wire

Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012

This Week's News

Health literacy tools can help doctors support improved health outcomes

Health literacy tools can help doctors support improved health outcomes

A health literacy toolkit from the AMA Foundation is now available free of charge to equip physicians to meet the health care needs of an estimated 98 million adult patients who have low health literacy.

Because limited health literacy skills can easily lead to poor health outcomes, including higher rates of hospitalization, the toolkit is designed to help both physicians and patients communicate effectively. Resources include:

  • A checklist to help patients prepare for a productive visit with their physicians. Action items include bringing prescriptions, reporting changes about new symptoms and asking questions.
  • An in-depth manual for clinicians. This 62-page guide explains how to assess health literacy, strategies to enhance health literacy and strategies for improving communication with patients who have limited health literacy skills.
  • A laminated, pocket-sized safety tip card for clinicians. The card serves as a quick reference on preventing communication-related adverse events.

Complementing the toolkit is an online instructional video about improving care for this patient population. Real physicians and patients discuss the challenges caused by low health literacy, their special communication needs and how to overcome these barriers.

Physicians can apply for a new bulk-order grant by submitting a simple form to receive 20 or more copies of the toolkit, which can be shared with other clinicians and staff in a physician's practice, colleagues in other practices or hospitals, or fellow members of a physician's medical association.

Improving health outcomes is one of three focus areas that are part of the AMA's new strategic direction. Read more about the new focus areas elsewhere in AMA Wire.