An article by Aileen Kantor in Managed Healthcare Executive addresses the issue of health literacy (Can Health Literacy Programs Cut Costs?). A lot of patients have trouble understanding what their doctors are talking about, and some experts think the solution is for health plans to educate consumers to try to increase their literacy.
I’m quoted in the article arguing against that approach. Let the schools and government work on health literacy, which probably is important. But a more addressable problem is clarity of communications. Health plans, providers, and pharmacies could all be a lot clearer in how they communicate with patients. The article mentions RelayHealth, Target’s ClearRx program, and Pfizer’s efforts as examples of initiatives that increase clarity.
A higher level of health literacy is good, but I don’t think it’s the main problem.July 20, 2005