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Archive for the ‘Health Literacy’ Category

JGIM Commentary Calls on Physicians to Advance Health Literate Organizations

The Journal of General Internal Medicine published a commentary this month, “Physicians’ Roles in Creating Health Literate Organizations: A Call to Action,” that gives physicians guidance on their role in implementing health literate health care organizations. Physicians’ responsibilities to address health literacy are not restricted to improving the clinical encounter, declared authors Cindy Brach, Benard Dreyer, and Dean Schillinger. For health care organizations to become health literate, physicians must also be willing to serve as health literacy champions.

The authors detail actions physicians can take to implement each of the Ten Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations, as described in an Institute of Medicine discussion paper by Brach, et al, published in 2012. The article also points readers to the Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit to help physicians lead their practices in implementing health literacy universal precautions.

New AHRQ Tool to Assess Patient Education Materials!

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has just released a new tool to help professionals choose more understandable and actionable materials; the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT). Patient educational materials, such as brochures, medical instructions, and audiovisual aids, are often complex and lack clear information about what the patient should do. AHRQ’s PEMAT and User’s Guide provides a systematic method to evaluate and compare the understandability and actionability of patient education materials. By selecting health materials that score better on the PEMAT, you can be more confident that people of varying levels of health literacy will be able to process and explain key messages, and identify what they can do based on the information presented.

Additional tools for improving health literacy are available from AHRQ’s website, including:

IMLS Announces 2013 LSTA Competitive Grant Recipients for the Pacific Territories, Freely Associated States, and Hawaii!

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has just announced seven 2013 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Competitive Grants, totaling $487,158, for the Pacific Territories, Freely Associated States, and Hawaii. IMLS provides support for Pacific Territories, Freely Associated States, and U.S. Virgin Islands through a competitive process administered by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL). This year’s grants were awarded to the following institutions. To see award details, visit the list of funded projects on the IMLS web site.

  • Feleti Barstow Public Library – Pago Pago, American Samoa
  • Joeten-Kiyu Public Library – Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  • FSM National Archives, Culture and Historic Preservation – Palikir, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia
  • Guam Public Library System – Hagatna, Guam
  • Palau Ministry of Education – Koror, Palau
  • Alele Museum, Public Library & National Archives – Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands

An additional award was made through the IMLS National Leadership Grant program to Pacific Resources for Education and Learning in Honolulu, HI. The $249,558 grant will support a project-based curriculum that uses the topics of nutrition and cultivation to increase childhood literacy. “The Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States face unique challenges in terms of connectivity, language, and outreach,” said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. “While these projects are designed to address local needs, they also offer models of library service for other island nations.”

Congratulations to all the awardees!

NLM Introduces infoSIDA Web Site to the Latino Community!

The National Library of Medicine has initiated an outreach effort to the Latino community for the federal Web site on AIDS, infoSIDA, a free, online Spanish-language resource for HIV/AIDS information regarding treatment, prevention, and research findings. It is a service of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and includes authoritative content from the following HHS agencies; the National Institutes of Health, including NLM; the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This Spanish-language Web site is designed to provide health information resources to the Latino community in an easy-to-use format, utilizing culturally appropriate and relevant language.

Today in America, according to the CDC, approximately one in 50 Latinos will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. The rate of new HIV infections among Latino men is almost three times that of white men (39.9 vs. 15.9 per 100,000), and the rate among Latinas is more than four times that of white women (11.8 vs. 2.6 per 100,000). In 2009, Hispanics/Latinos represented 16% of the U.S. population, but accounted for 20% of new HIV infections. Statistics like these and a need to reach vulnerable populations were a driving force in NLM’s recognition of the need to speak directly to Latinos on the issue of HIV/AIDS, in a culturally relevant manner.

NLM will be promoting the infoSIDA Web site through a multi-platform media outreach effort that includes two new radio public service announcements that will air on Spanish media outlets nationwide. In addition, Ms. Fedora Braverman, a librarian with the NLM Public Services Division, will take part in a June 1st broadcast of “Bienvenidos a América,” discussing infoSIDA and other Spanish-language consumer resources from NLM. Bienvenidos a América (BAA) is a weekly call-in radio show focused on providing Spanish preferred Latinos with information and resources specific to immigration issues. Since this program’s audience is a key component in determining the success of this campaign, NLM will utilize this program, which airs on 111 Spanish radio stations nationwide. In addition to being on the air, the NLM specific segment on BAA will be streamed and made available online. The online resources of infoSIDA will also be publicized and made available via NLM’s social media outlets. Twitter users are invited to follow or join the conversation by using the hash tag #infoSIDA2013.

Institute of Medicine Publishes Affordable Care Act (ACA) Discussion Paper!

We are entering a critical time in health care in the United States. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes the American health care system in many ways. Of major importance is the fact that it expands access to health insurance for millions of Americans. But do Americans understand the changes that are coming? Do they understand their options for health insurance or how to choose the insurance plan that best meets their needs? And will they know how to use that insurance plan once they have it? Many people don’t have this understanding, and they have a hard time getting reliable information when they try to learn more.

Six participants in the Collaborative on Health Literacy and Access, Health Care Coverage, and Care of the IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy have prepared a discussion paper that presents basic information that can be used to help people understand their health insurance options. The 14-page paper, Helping Consumers Understand and Use
Health Insurance in 2014
, is a resource for those who will be helping consumers make important decisions; including patient navigators, community organizations, employers, media, educators, and any individual or organization working to improve understanding of options for health insurance.

NLM Funds Three Community Family Health Information Outreach Pilot Projects

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Outreach and Special Populations Branch has funded three innovative outreach projects in information dissemination for family and women’s health by public libraries and information centers. The NLM recognizes public libraries as strategic partners in increasing the awareness and utilization of NLM and National Institutes of Health (NIH) resources, and meeting NLM long range goals of health literacy, informing citizens, and reducing health disparities. All projects have a component on family health, and also target women as the main information gatherer and health decision influencer in the family.

Three libraries were funded, including one in the Pacific Southwest Region:

  • Forsyth County Public Library, Winston-Salem, NC
  • Petersburg Public Library system, Petersburg, VA
  • Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ

The Pima County Public Library’s Heath Initiative Project aims to build capacity for women’s health literacy awareness, including self-health, family health, health care decision making, being the family health care giver; and resources, including those from the National Library of Medicine, for healthy living. The main objective is to support the library’s health literacy initiative and Health Information Literacy team in developing a toolkit that includes sustainable programming, partnerships, and resources for library community engagement.

Congratulations to all the awardees!

3rd Annual Health Literacy Innovator Award Contest Launched

Health Literacy Innovations (HLI), creator of the Health Literacy Advisor (HLA), the nation’s first interactive health literacy software tool (in English and Spanish), has announced its 3rd annual Health Literacy Innovators Award contest. The contest, a national competition to reward innovators in health literacy, seeks the nation’s best health literacy practices in print, in practice, and in the media. It is open to any company, organization or individual that can demonstrate excellence in health literacy in one of the three contest categories. Contest winners, one per category, receive three annual licenses of the Health Literacy Advisor. The application deadline is August 31st, 2012. Information on contest rules and application forms is available on the web site.

Health Literacy Innovations creates tools to help eliminate medical mistakes and confusion due to low health literacy. HLI’s flagship product, the Health Literacy Advisor™ (in Spanish–Asesor de Comunicación en Salud™) is the nation’s first, only, and most powerful health literacy software tool. As a “health literacy checker,” the HLA streamlines the review and simplification process by allowing users to assess the readability of their documents and then make adjustments using plain language principles. The HLA applies nine well-known readability indices in English and six indices in Spanish, and an interactive search-and-replace function to eliminate hard-to-read terms and phrases and medical jargon with plain language alternatives. The combination of these two functions, a document “grade” with a readability score/grade level, and the ReadsEasy™ stamp (a reward for good work) sets the HLA software apart from programs or readability indices alone.

How Effective Healthcare Communication Contributes to Health Equity

Patient talking to her healthcare providers, a screenshot from How Effective Healthcare Communication Contributes to Health EquityThe Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has released a seven minute video: “How Effective Healthcare Communication Contributes to Health Equity.” This video offers a helpful introduction for all healthcare providers on how culture, language and health literacy support the elimination of disparities and promote health equity. Effective healthcare communication policies and practices, including provider health literacy, contribute to improving the quality of services for culturally and linguistically diverse populations, as well as people with limited health literacy skills.

New Discussion Paper: Attributes of a Health Literate Organization

What is a Health Literate Organization?

In January 2012, participants in a workgroup of the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Health Literacy published a discussion paper titled “Attributes of a Health Literate Organization.”

This paper describes ten attributes of a health literate organization, with examples for each attribute.  Health literate organizations will make it “easier for people to navigate, understand, and use information and services to take care of their health.”

The authors underscore the importance of addressing health literacy at an organizational level, along with guidelines for various types of health care organizations. The paper concludes with a list of highly relevant resources that will be useful to anyone interested in this topic.

To see the detailed list of attributes and examples, please visit  A PDF of the discussion paper can be downloaded here.

Early Bird Registration Deadline Extended for IHA Health Literacy Conference!

Good news! If you have been thinking about registering for the annual Health Literacy Conference sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Advancement, you still have a few days to save on your registration!  The Early Bird Savings Registration deadline has been extended to Monday, April 16th.

Also, did you know that attendees receive a set of the “What to Do for Health” books? If you are not familiar with this wonderful series, you can learn more by going to and clicking on the Books tab, or you can go directly here.

The Medical Library Association and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) recognizes that members have a role to play in health literacy and encourages you to attend this conference. This activity has been approved by the Medical Library Association (MLA); attendees can earn up to 19 contact hours.  Also, the NN/LM PSR and MLA will be hosting an exhibit table at the conference to help inform attendees how librarians can support and improve health literacy.

IHA has been very proactive in reaching out to our profession.  Librarians can save even more on their registration by taking advantage of the special discount! Use discount code MLA12 when you register, and save $50 off the regular low registration rate. Register early to get this special rate – the early bird deadline is on or before Monday, April 16 at 5pm Pacific Daylight Time. Click here to register now.  Also, see the announcement towards the end of the email for information about applying for a conference scholarship.

Additional information about what you can expect at the conference:

New, Extended Preconference Offerings!

 There are some great preconference activities lined up for you this year! Some are repeats from last year; many are FREE, and a few are brand-new offerings. As a registered attendee, here’s what you can look forward to when you come in a day early…

•     Extended, 3-Hour Preconference Learning Sessions. Take advantage of this opportunity to choose an immersive, 3-hour learning session on two very important topics: How to Write for a Low Literacy Audience, by IHA’s Gloria Mayer, or 10 Tips to Make Your Health Website Easier to Use, by Stacy Robison and Xanthi Scrimgeour. NOTE: There is an additional fee of $59 for either workshop.

•     FREE: National Action Plan Live Virtual Event. This event will bring in participants from all over the world to discuss, via social media, ways in which they have implemented the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. Discussion moderators at the session are IHA’s Michael Villaire and Gloria Mayer, and (just added!) CDC’s Cynthia Baur, Ph.D, a Lead Editor of the National Action Plan.

•     FREE: Workshop: Draft Your Own Action Plan. Attendees at the conference can stay for this workshop to walk through each step of writing your own Action Plan and implement it in your organization.

•     FREE: Health Literacy 101: An Introduction to the Field.  For those who are somewhat new to the field of health literacy, join us for this basic, introductory overview of the field, and learn what you need to know about health literacy.

Attend Four Hands-On, Interactive Breakout Sessions!

 Folks who have attended the conference tell us what really sets the IHA Health Literacy Conference apart is that you can attend four, 1.5-hour skill-building sessions. Roll up your sleeves and learn specific skills to help you function more efficiently and better understand and meet your clients’ and patients’ needs.   These sessions provide a wide selection of choices, from tools you can use and programs you can replicate to practicing new skill sets, and more. Here are the breakout session selections for 2012:

•     The Case for Collaboration: Creating and Sustaining Healthy Partnerships

•     Developing a Health Literacy Program Evaluation Plan

•     Finding the Right Resources to Meet Your Health Literacy Needs

•     Including People Who Experience Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in Health Literacy Plans and Programs

•     Implementing Health Literacy in a Large Company: An Example from Pharma

•     Using the Arts to Advance Health Literacy

•     Using New Media Tools to Reach People with Health Information

•     Learning the Language of Health Literacy Grants

•     Usability Testing on a Dime: What, Why and How

•     Panel: Health Literacy Tools Developed by Health Plans

Best Buy for Your Education Dollars

 These days, we all need to look at where we can best spend our money. This is particularly true for nonprofit organizations. However, when you consider that only slightly more than 1 in 10 American adults are considered proficient in the health literacy skills they need to effectively navigate and use our healthcare system, you can see that the Health Literacy Conference is an excellent buy. If you make even a small number of incremental changes in how you and your staff interact and communicate with your patients and clients, the results could more than pay for your small investment.

We have kept our tuition rates at the same low rate every year. See our rates grid and show it to whoever approves your education programming to see how little you will pay to attend this important conference. And remember, your registration fee includes:

•     Continuing Education credits (up to 19 hours)

•     Breakfast on Thursday and Friday

•     Lunch on Thursday and Friday

•     Opening Night Reception–cocktails and hors d’oeuvres

•     FREE Wednesday nationwide virtual event AND workshop on the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, to help you create an action plan for your organization

•     FREE Preconference Session on Wednesday evening: “Health Literacy 101: An Introduction to the Field”

•     Complimentary tote bag with info and free set of IHA books

•     Poster session on Thursday evening

•     Multiple networking opportunities

 Conference Scholarships Offered Courtesy of Health Literacy Innovations

Want to attend the conference but you are short on funds? This year the sponsor Health Literacy Innovations (HLI), creators of the Health Literacy Advisor™ (in Spanish-Asesor de Comunicación en Salud™) will provide seven scholarships to the conference. If you are interested in applying, please visit

 Conference Hotel–Hyatt Regency Irvine

 The Eleventh Annual IHA Health Literacy Conference will be held once again at the Hyatt Regency Irvine, close to John Wayne/Orange County Airport (SNA) with complimentary airport shuttle, and just minutes from world-class shopping at South Coast Plaza. Easy access to the beach and freeway, close to Disneyland Park, California Adventure, the Downtown Disney District, Knott’s Berry Farm, The Outlets at Orange, Crystal Cathedral, and Anaheim Stadium.

There are a limited number of rooms at a special rate of $125 at the Hyatt Regency Irvine. Be sure to mention that you are attending the IHA Health Literacy Conference to get this special rate.  Book your room early, as the block of rooms at this special rate is limited. When these rooms are gone, prevailing rates apply on an as-available basis. Deadline for reserving rooms at this rate is April 23, 2012 OR until rooms in this block are sold out, whichever comes first. Rates are good for two days before and two days after the conference.

IHA welcomes your calls.  For any questions, don’t hesitate to call Michael Villaire at (800) 434-4633, ext. 202, or email