CMSA Today - Issue 3, 2013 - (Page 16)

Lost in Translation Lost in Translation The Challenge for All Health Professionals to Prioritize and Implement Health Literacy BY MARY GYNN, RN, BSN, MSN/MS, MPH, DE THEN, AND NOW Until fairly recently, no state, municipal or community entity had developed a formal definition for the concept of “Health Literacy.” In many states, the concept continues to be almost completely overlooked by health professionals and administrators. However, certain areas of the United States have begun to seriously develop and implement Health Literacy as part of their overall health programming. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, several states and municipalities and many community groups have been hard at work developing Health Literacy programs, 16 CMSA TODAY education materials, resources, and websites. A few states – two of which are Wisconsin and Kentucky– are showing real leadership and even host Health Literacy “Summits,” where Issue 3 • 2013 • DIGITAL best practices and forward-thinking programming are shared. Recently, HHS has developed a definition of Health Literacy in order to provide a common understanding among health professionals in order to implement it: “Health Literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” In practice, Health Literacy means using techniques like “plain language” with the patients we serve in order to make the details of case management, discharge planning, medical terminology, health reports, tests, medications, etc. more understandable. Patients are well aware of the complexity of health information and the health care system. They don’t need to be further perplexed by the language used by the health professionals serving them. If our goal as health professionals truly is to provide the best possible health care we can, patients need to be well informed in ways they clearly understand. Research shows that when individuals understand health information, it results in healthier populations, reduced medical costs, better self-management, improved understanding at the crucial time when leaving the hospital, and helps people make better health decisions.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CMSA Today - Issue 3, 2013

President's Letter
Public Policy Committee
Are You Just a Care Coordinator?
Moving Toward Meaningful Outcome Reporting
Lost in Translation
Association News
Index of Advertisers
CMSA Corporate Partners

CMSA Today - Issue 3, 2013