Better health begins with better understanding
By Phil Colpas, Managing Editor, September 5, 2012
As the U.S. healthcare model changes from rewarding for quantity to rewarding for quality, disease management is projected to be one of the fastest-growing segments in the industry, with healthcare IT vendors scrambling for a piece of the proverbial pie.
They really have their work cut out for them.
According to a National Assessment of Adult Literacy survey, two in five American adults have difficulty processing health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. That’s an estimated 90 million people, and those with poor health literacy also are more likely to have a chronic disease and less likely to get the healthcare they need.
The survey goes on to state that 75 percent of Americans who reported having a long-term illness had limited health literacy and knew less about their conditions or how to handle symptoms. The need for awareness and adherence to health literacy principles has become a public health concern, estimated to cost the U.S. economy in the range of $106 billion to $238 billion annually, according to the survey.
“The widespread but often unrecognized public health challenge of health literacy serves as both a warning and a call to action,” says Jack Harris, M.D., vice president of Eli Lilly and Company’s U.S. medical division. “Overcoming health disparities is a transformational and important journey. At Lilly we are working to develop communication and health education that connects with patients in a way that’s meaningful and understandable.”
If a chronic disease sufferer doesn’t understand his or her diagnosis or treatment plan, it’s easy to see how that lack of information could lead to recurring hospital readmittances for the same condition. As vendors, hospitals and physician practices formulate their disease management plans, health literacy should be top of mind.
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