WHAT IS HEALTH LITERACY?
Health literacy is the ability to obtain, read, understand, and use healthcare information in order to make appropriate health decisions and follow instructions for treatment.
Health literacy is closely linked to literacy and include people’ knowledge, motivation, and competencies, to access, understand, appraise, and apply health information to promote their health and the health of those they love in their communities.
To be health literate, one must possess the reading, listening, reasoning and problem solving skills necessary to make informed choices about healthcare and health.
WHY IS HEALTH LITERACY IMPORTANT?
Patients with low health literacy understand less about their medical conditions, treatments and overall report worse health status. Health literacy is relevant for making decisions in everyday life in terms of healthcare, disease prevention, and health promotion. It is essential for maintaining and improving the quality of life during the life course.
However, research shows that people with limited health literacy have a hard time comprehending health information; for example, understanding and utilizing appointment slips, medication labels, vaccination guidelines, health education material, insurance applications and general health information provided by health professionals, the media or the internet.
According to an Institute of Medicine (2004) report, low health literacy negatively affects the treatment outcome and safety of care delivery. People with low health literacy understand less about their medical conditions, treatments and overall report worse health status.
WHAT ARE THE FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE HEALTH LITERACY?
Several factors may influence health literacy. However, the following factors have been shown to strongly increase this risk: age (especially patients 65 years and older), limited English language proficiency or English as a second language, less education, and lower socioeconomic status.
The risk of limited health literacy is even higher and disproportionate in certain demographic group, for example, among people with long term illness, low education or general literacy, financial difficulties, ethnic minorities, and individuals facing homelessness.
These populations have a higher risk of hospitalization, longer hospital stays, are less likely to comply with treatment, and more likely to make errors with medication.
WHAT ARE THE INTERVENTIONS TO IMPROVE HEALTH LITERACY?
Various interventions, such as simplifying information and illustrations, avoiding jargon, using “teach-back ” methods, and encouraging patients’ questions, have improved health behaviors in persons with low health literacy.
Decreasing the complexity within healthcare and social system and making it easier for citizens to navigate them. Supporting initiatives that improve health literacy particularly among the most vulnerable group affected by limited health literacy. Increasing effort to support professionals and people to become co-managers of health and lead the way to a healthier society.
Society as a whole is responsible for improving health literacy. Most importantly, improving health literacy is the responsibility of healthcare and public health professionals and systems.
CARDIUM AS A TOOL FOR INTERVENTION
We believe that health literacy is a big challenge in Nigeria and across Africa. We understand that one of the measures to improve health literacy is to ensure that quality health information is easily accessible in an easy-to-comprehend format by the citizens.
That is why we built our solution to deliver health information in a streamlined, bit sizes, jargon-free text, coupled with images, video to educate the population on diseases, medications, prevention, and other health information so as to complement the efforts of the healthcare providers.
By integrating this information with their healthcare need (especially in drug therapy), providing management tools, and personalizing it for non-medical professionals, it will improve overall treatment outcome and quality of life.
As information empowers people to make the right health decisions, we are also working to increase patient access to primary care providers and other health professionals for consultation and management through optimization of virtual care services.
With our collaborative efforts, we can improve the support to people and professionals to become co-managers of health and lead the way to a healthier society. By empowering people with information, they become more proactive in making appropriate health decisions for themselves and their loved ones, living a long and healthy life.
Cardium is a mobile app where drug consumers have access to streamline drug counselling information in a form of drug reference text for non medical professionals.
We don’t just manage your medications, we educate and remind you on the way to effectively use them!
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