Healthcare systems are operating in an environment that is increasingly moving toward value-based payments that reward good health outcomes and patient experience. An impediment to success in this environment, however, is that both health care delivery systems and health information are extremely complicated. The level of complexity stymies many people and hinders them from making informed preventive care and self-management decisions. Health systems are finding that they cannot achieve improved patient outcomes or experiences without improving how health care professionals communicate with and support patients.
Health systems have begun to respond to the mismatch between patients’ capabilities and the health literacy-related demands of the healthcare system. A new term has emerged – the health literate organisation – that describes organisations that aspire to make it easier for people to navigate, understand, and use information and services to take care of their health. Health literate organisations, in turn, need healthcare professionals who have health literacy knowledge and skills, such as being able to communicate effectively, break down health goals into manageable steps, and connect people with the resources they need to be successful
Harris et al. explores health literate care in this Commentary for the National Academy of Medicine.