Health Literacy and Your ND Practice
by Kathy Everitt on Monday, October 17, 2016
Health literacy may be affecting more of your patients than you realize. The National Institute of Health, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, estimates that low health literacy affects 90 million adults in the U.S.
Health literacy encompasses more than just the skills necessary to read. It also encompasses skills needed to:
- Access healthcare services
- Analyze the relative risks and benefits of recommended treatment
- Calculate and understand dosages
- Communicate with healthcare providers
- Evaluate information
- Interpret and understand test results
- Locate health information
To be able to do these things, the patient or caregiver must be visually literate, computer literate, information literate and numerically or computationally literate. For an excellent overview of the state of health literacy, visit the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.
What can you do to combat low health literacy in your practice? You can institute what is called universal health literacy precautions with all patients. Universal health literacy precautions assume that all patients may have difficulty comprehending health information and accessing health services. To institute the precautions:
- Simplify communication and confirm comprehension
- Make your office easier to navigate
- Support your patient’s efforts to improve their health
Here's a toolkit for your practice to get you started. This toolkit contains over 25 resources including sample forms, videos, PowerPoint presentations and slides to help you on your journey. There is even a quick start guide.
Both the AANP Code of Ethics and the AANP Guidance Regarding Naturopathic Practice and Care include statements about your duty to communicate effectively with patients in terms they can understand.
As a Naturopathic Physician, you understand the importance of involving your patients in their individual care. This involvement relies on their health literacy and your role as a teacher of alternative natural care methods.
At NCMIC, we are pleased to offer NDs risk management resources. Find out more.