How many times have you gone into the doctor’s office for a routine check-up? How many times have you sat and waited while forms were filled and filed and bills were dispatched for later payment? While healthcare is incredibly important in terms of having access, it is also important to have a concrete understanding of WHAT we are accessing and looking at.
Health literacy is a term used by the medical community to describe how an individual can learn, communicate, and process their basic understanding of health information and its associated services.
Put plainly, health literacy is about arming ourselves with the knowledge we need to make informed decisions regarding the health of ourselves and our loved ones. For individuals who take time to hone their understanding of healthcare, they will benefit from the ability to make better and more informed decisions regarding their health.
Why Is Health Literacy So Important?
While health literacy is clearly important based upon our description, far too few individuals are aware of this important topic. Health literacy isn’t just important for our own peace of mind, but it is also important for keeping the healthcare industry accountable and, in the future, voting for reformation within the system that benefits the people.
For individuals who do not have an adequate level of health literacy, a problem explored on this page on Medium, there are many reasons to make that change. A lack of understanding regarding health literacy can have impacts and consequences on a personal, financial, and individual health level.
What are some examples of problems manifested by health illiteracy?
– Not Knowing When and How to Take Medication Properly
– Understanding Important Signs and Symptoms of Health Issue.
– Spend Too Much Money on Unneeded Services
How Can I Improve My Health Literacy?
While health literacy is critical, it can also be challenging to improve. Understanding that you lack a proper understanding of your medical needs is the best place to start because only then can we begin building upward. Some health experts argue that upwards of 90% of adults only have a limited level of health literacy, with change often coming at a time when it is difficult — during critical health struggles.
For individuals that want to gain a proper understanding of their health literacy, consider working with your primary care provider. Many hospitals and medical clinics are setting up Health Literacy plans and programs to guide their patients toward a better and more complete understanding of the world around them. This can happen through online health-sharing platforms that offer access to information and even insight from healthcare professionals.
Individuals that want to assess their health literacy in a more immediate fashion may want to get into the habit of repeating information back to their medical providers. By offering an echo of their words, we can double-down and solidify our understanding of the information being shared. Additionally, consider requesting paperwork for all information shared during appointments as a reference to reflect upon later.