Case Management

New resource can help boost patient health literacy

Case Management Insider, May 12, 2015

Adequate health literacy is a critical for patients leaving the hospital setting for the next level of care. Once patients leave, they’ll need to understand their condition well enough to follow treatment guidelines to stay healthy.

Experts say that only 12% of patients are fully capable of understanding the complexities of the health system and even then some of these patients may get confused when they’re facing the stress of an illness, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
 
After discharge, much of this responsibility to ensure patients are educated and informed will fall on the patient’s individual physician. With this in mind, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recently helped to update the AHRQ Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit, which was first published in 2010. The goal was to help physicians understand how to communicate clearly with their patients so that they leave with a complete understanding of the information their physician gave them. To update the toolkit, researchers collected information from 12 primary care practices, conducting surveys and interviews, according to the AAFP. Their findings were used to make changes to the toolkit to make it more useful.
 
One of the biggest changes the AHRQ made was to trim the 227-page book down to make it more manageable. While they took out some pieces, they kept others, such as the guide on how to perform the popular brown bag medicine reviews, which ask patients to bring in all their medications in a so-called brown bag so the physician can ensure they are appropriate.
 
The new kit also includes additional tools and resources from survey guides to planning tools that practices can use to improve their communication with patients.
 
While the tools are geared toward physician practices, case managers may find some useful as well. In addition, case managers can recommend this resource to their patient’s physicians, particularly for those who may be at higher risk for readmission.
 
Click here to download a copy of the toolkit.

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