Sun 30 Apr 2006
During the previous session Mr. Deardorff updated me on most of his Health Literacy knowledge and provided me with a large packet of information from the American Medical Association (AMA). He explained that he had been to a couple conferences and lecutres around the region featuring the importance of improving health literacy in the community. Before our next meeting, I was to go over the information and then afterwards, submit to him my findings, basically a summary of the important ideas in the information given.
On the weekend prior to our meeting, I watched the AMA video, read the pamphlet on Health Literacy and wrote down a page of notes that I wanted to convey to Mr. Deardorff. The AMA’s Health Literacy packet was filled with information geared towards physicians and their knowledge of the subject. Past research had lead the AMA to realize the direct relationship between Health Literacy and patient well-being, and as a result, they came up with an informational package for physicians in order to have an immediate impact on the healthcare industry.
The following were a few of the key points in the AMA Health Literacy packet that I conveyed to Mr. Deardorff.
Improving the Health Care Environment:
Adopt an attitude of helpfulness
Include all staff members
Be proactive (look for incomplete information etc…)
Use common language
Focus on most important concepts
Involve family members (for memory aids, support, etc)
Use visual aids
Employ the teach-back method
After reviewing the materials, I understood how important improving Health Literacy for the population would be for all Americans, and probably the world. Before I watched the video and read the text, it seemed like the problem would just require a simple index of medical terms commonly used in the health world. However, after reading the packet, it really became apparent how large of a problem Americans have in our healthcare system.
Going over the Health Literacy information from the AMA gave me an inside view into the lives of people who have problems understanding their healthcare system. It was hard for me to imagine being a patient and not understanding what kind of condition my body was in, what the cause was, and how I was going to deal with that–medications etcetera. The packet expained pretty well the problems everyone, even PhD’s, have with understanding terms that are not used in everyday communication.
In Managing A Nonprofit Organization, by Thomas Wolf, he describes what he calls a “Case for support,” as a convincing and clear description of the situation that will get your clients and contributors to move to action (Wolf, 347). In this situation, the AMA is trying to convince physicians, and in general the public and other organizations that Health Literacy is a huge problem in the community. The organization is also attempting to fulfill its mission of helping physicians confront various medial issues by informing them of this major problem. By being proactive on this issue, the AMA is securing the subscribers to their periodicals, membership, and other activities because physicians want to know how they can better serve their patients.