The Georgia Alliance for Health Literacy is celebrating national Health Literacy Month by asking all healthcare professionals to use teach-back communication. Teach-back is a proven method to help patients understand what their doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists or other healthcare providers are telling them. In teach-back, healthcare professionals ask patients to explain information in their own words. It adds only a minute or two to each patient appointment.
The Georgia Alliance for Health Literacy is asking each of its partner organizations that serve patients or educate healthcare professionals to promote teach-?back during the month of October. Participating sites include Morehouse School of Medicine, the Georgia Dental Association, the Georgia Nurses Association, the Georgia Hospital Association, Emory University, the Georgia Health Care Association and the Georgia Regents University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership. Teach back events might include brown bag discussions, mock patient-provider clinic visits, and presentations in staff meetings or publications. Dr. Laurel Murrow, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Georgia Regents University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership said the overall goal of the teach-?back initiative is to improve patient understanding and safety.
“As a doctor, I use teach-?back to help me know how well I have explained something,” Murrow said. “If a patient did not understand my instructions, it gives me a chance to try again while we are still together. This helps patients walk away with a clear grasp of what they need to do when they get home.”
The national theme for this year’s Health Literacy Month is to “Be a health literacy hero.” Health Literacy Month was founded in 1999 by Helen Osborne, President of Health Literacy Consulting in Massachusetts, with a goal to raise awareness about health literacy and improve how health information is communicated. Health Literacy Month is now officially observed in several states, including South Carolina, Alabama, and Wisconsin.
Georgia ranks 39th among the states in overall health outcomes. It is estimated that poor health literacy costs the US between $106 billion to $238 billion. For Georgia, that translates into a figure between $3 billion to $6.6 billion. Georgia Alliance for Health Literacy Chair, Donald Rubin, said that the burden of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, could be greatly reduced by better health literacy practices.
“Improving health literacy for patients and consumers, for healthcare professionals, and for hospitals and clinics is one of the most cost-effective ways we have for relieving suffering, improving the economy, and bringing greater equity to our state.”
The Georgia Alliance for Health Literacy was founded in October of 2012. We are a nonprofit nonpartisan coalition representing educators, researchers, government officials, health care providers, employers, and patients and consumers. We raise awareness of the importance of health literacy skills, offer health literacy resources, and foster better communication for a healthy Georgia and a robust health care industry.
Additional information about national Health Literacy Month can be found online at http://www.healthliteracymonth.org/hl_month.asp.
The Georgia Alliance for Health Literacy (GAHL) provides resources and coordination in support of health literacy, promotion, education, and health equity in Georgia. GAHL elevates health literacy among patients and consumers, employees, healthcare providers, organizations and systems in both private and public sectors throughout the state and fosters research to better understand the impact of health literacy on our local communities. Visit GAHealthLiteracy.org or send an email to [email protected] for more information.