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Low Health Literacy, High Health Costs

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media, August 3, 2011

And last but not least, here is the marketer's bible: The Plain Language Thesaurus for Health Communications. It's the layman's healthcare dictionary that cuts through heavy healthcare jargon. When creating marketing copy, use this as a translation tool.

Language is a tricky beast to conquer, especially when patients have many different education levels and backgrounds. Some patients are visual learners while others understand better by listening.

A case study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that literacy can help determine which patients would benefit from an intervention for disease management. In areas where many patients have low literacy, access to disease management programs could help reduce health disparities, the study concludes.

My recommendation is that more hospitals and practices should assess and measure their health literacy rates to make measurable progress with improved standards.

Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Anna Webster, Online Content Coordinator for HealthLeaders Media, can be reached at
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