Every day, people find themselves in situations that involve important, life-changing decisions about their health. Their ability to make the right decisions about their health is greatly affected by their level of health literacy. Health literacy is defined as the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Do they understand what is wrong and what they need to do to fix it?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 9 out of 10 adults have some difficulty using the everyday health information that is routinely available in health care facilities, retail outlets, media, and communities. Studies have found that 43 percent of adults read at a marginal level or below. As well, some people with low health literacy have problems understanding quantitative data such as prescription drug doses. Limited health literacy is associated with poorer health outcomes and higher health care costs because the patient may not fully understand how to follow the instructions given by his or her doctor or other health professional. People with limited health literacy are more likely to make medication errors and are twice as likely to be hospitalized and have more outpatient visits per year. With costs of care continuing to increase, limited health literacy can also adversely affect the provider’s bottom line.
Horizon NJ Health understands the important role that health literacy plays in the relationship between providers and members. We strive to offer resources to providers that will help them increase the level of health literacy among their patients. This improved level of health literacy will ultimately improve patient adherence and overall health. Horizon NJ Health is committed to ensuring that its network of providers is committed to meeting the health literacy needs of its members.