Skip to main content

Improving Health Literacy

Analysis  |  By Revenue Cycle Advisor  
   March 31, 2021

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recommends that healthcare professionals use health literacy universal precautions with all patients.

A version of this article was first published March 31, 2021, by HCPro's Revenue Cycle Advisor, a sibling publication to HealthLeaders.

Q: What are the best strategies for case managers to utilize when aiming to help patients with low health literacy?

A: In 2021, hospitals will need to put more time into identifying and helping people with social determinants of health, such as homelessness, food insecurity, and health literacy, says Ellen Fink-Samnick, MSW, ACSW, LCSW, CCM, CCTP, CMHIMP, CRP, DBH(s), of EFS Supervision Strategies LLC in Burke, Virginia.

Naturally, case managers should emphasize improving health literacy and initiatives to increase patient trust in the health system. “Patient understanding of the full scope of infection protocols, COVID-19 transmission, and other safety precautions will be essential,” says Fink-Samnick. “Case managers will have to be up to date on health literacy and language proficiency tools, e.g., touchback, to assure patients and their families understand the information provided to them.”

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recommends that healthcare professionals use health literacy universal precautions with all patients, according to Colleen Morley, DNP, RN, CCM, CMAC, CMCN, ACM-RN, CMSA Chicago president. These include the following:

  • Asking patients to repeat back information they are told to ensure they understand it
  • Avoiding open-ended questions, and instead asking patients to provide more detailed information to gauge understanding
  • Avoiding the use of medical jargon
  • Ensuring that patient materials are simple, clear, and written at a third- to fifth-grade level
  • Providing education in the patient’s preferred language and using medical interpreters when needed

For more information on this topic, see November’s issue of Case Management Monthly.

Revenue Cycle Advisor combines all of HCPro's Medicare regulatory and reimbursement resources into one handy and easy-to-access portal. News is not just repeated from other sources. It is analyzed by our Medicare experts so professionals can comprehend any new rule and regulatory updates thoroughly. Learn more.

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.