Health Literacy

Health Literacy affects nearly everyone on some level. In fact, 9 out of 10 American adults need help in finding, understanding and using health information. This ranges from seemingly simple pieces like nutrition facts to very complex instructions like a care plan for a chronic condition.

In 2010, the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics (IOP) identified health literacy as a critical and timely challenge facing the health care delivery system in western Pennsylvania. The IOP convened a town hall meeting for regional health care and community organizations to address health literacy in October 2010. As a result of that town hall, regional health and human service leaders came together with a goal to improve health literacy in our region. HCWP played a key role in assembling a diverse group of regional leaders to guide this effort. Today this group is known as the Regional Health Literacy Coalition (RHLC).

RHLC is working to make the regional health care system more person-centered, health literate and accessible by the year 2020. With an emphasis on working with health care providers to insure all health communication is accurate, accessible and actionable for every resident of the Pittsburgh region. This means using plain language when talking with consumers, writing health information and designing digital content.

Thanks to a RHLC survey, we know that 1 in 6 people in the Pittsburgh region have significant challenges understanding their health care. Neglecting this community need leads to inefficient care delivery that costs more, distress patients during care and ultimately results in poorer health outcomes.