Health literacy is a growing concept in the healthcare and public health field. According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, health literacy is “the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.” Health literacy is a skill that pertains to both the patient receiving services and the clinician providing services.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone who needs health information and services also needs health literacy skills to
Find information and services
Communicate their needs and preferences and respond to information and services
Process the meaning and usefulness of the information and services
Understand the choices, consequences, and context of the information and services
Decide which information and services match their needs and preferences so they can act
It is critical that patients are comfortable in their ability to find and communicate about the services they need, understand what options are available, and make informed decisions.
The CDC also says anyone who provides health information and services to others, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, pharmacist, or public health worker, also needs health literacy skills to
Help people find information and services
Communicate about health and healthcare
Process what people are explicitly and implicitly asking for
Understand how to provide useful information and services
Decide which information and services work best for different situations and people so they can act
The responsibility for good health literacy does not only fall on the shoulders of the patient; the provider is equally responsible for providing information in a manner that is clear, understandable, and informative for the patient. Like any type of communication, health literacy is a two-way street between provider and patient. The patient is going to receive the best service and the provider is going to be able to give the most help when both parties are communicating and understanding each other. When there is a lack of communication and understanding, neither party is successful in their goals.
As the healthcare field continues to grow and expand, more and more options become available to the consumer (patient). In the audiology world, you can see this in the vast range of treatment options for hearing loss. There are many advertisements for many types of hearing devices due to the increasing need for hearing healthcare. It is evermore becoming more critical for consumers to work with providers who are knowledgeable and trustworthy. Consumers need help navigating all of the treatment options available to them. Better health is obtained with better health literacy.
Your audiologists at Professional Hearing Center strive to be conscientious of health literacy. We aim to not only provide the best recommendations but also provide you with the knowledge to lead you to the best choices for you, your loved ones, and your lifestyle. We are your advocates and team members chosen to work alongside you and help you find the options that are going to work best for you. It is our job to provide information and support and enable you to make the best possible decisions. It is also our job to work alongside you once you make a decision and help provide support and assistance through the following years.