Clear-Speak Needed: Call to Duty for Healthcare Public Relations and Communications Professionals to Improve Health Literacy
National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy

National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy

Here’s a worthwhile idea that we can all get behind. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released its National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. It’s aimed at making health information and services easier to understand and use.

The plan calls for improving the jargon-filled language, dense writing, and complex explanations that often fill patient handouts, medical forms, health web sites, and recommendations to the public.

Hopefully, professional communicators do this daily, but it sounds like they’re talking to just about everyone who works in healthcare marketing, advertising, PR, and doctor/physician marketing. It’s a good reminder and a worthwhile practice.

According to the HSS report: “…efforts to improve the health literacy skills of both the public and health professionals are needed to achieve a health literate society—a critical need as health reform generates more demand for consumer and patient information that is easy-to-understand and culturally and linguistically appropriate.”

Only 12 percent of English-speaking adults in the US have proficient health literacy skills. The overwhelming majority of adults have difficulty understanding and using everyday health information that comes from many sources, including the media, web sites, nutrition and medicine labels, and health professionals.

HHS goes on to say: “The action plan contains seven goals, each with specific strategies for different sectors of the health system, such as payers, the media, government agencies, and health care professionals, to improve health literacy. These goals emphasize the importance of creating health and safety information that is accurate, accessible, and actionable.”

The goals are worthy. Although the plan itself is a bit wordy and bureaucratic sounding, you can find more information and a summary of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy here.

Let us know what you have to say about this. We love to hear your success stories worth retelling.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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