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Healthcare Literacy Still a Big Problem with Treatments, Diagnosis and Insurance Coverage – Business Still Does Very Littl

Posted Jul 06 2010 10:02am

Last week I took to task this survey done by a group that invests heavily with healthcare technology, one big area that could be reduced substantially to save money in healthcare as it is completely over crowded with transactions fees, up to 2-3 being taken from processing a single healthcare claim when one should be adequate.  Consolidation in the analysis department would stand to save a ton of money and more of these firms should merge to get part of that burden out of our cost that we pay, it’s a race as to who has the best payment algorithms and too much competition, duplication of efforts and we all pay in the end.  Anyway, this study last week that was released showed a group that was “literate” in healthcare?  I just wonder where the found those folks? image

A big part of the problem here is the “non participants” that create our laws, as if they participated and “shared” valuable information themselves, we would not need half the studies we do as they “would get it”, and that is the reason surveys and studies are done anyway, to find out who doesn’t get it when people are not participants themselves.  According to research from the U.S. Department of Education, only 12 percent of English-speaking adults in the United States have proficient health literacy skills.

Long and short of all of this is that we have government officials that live in “tech denial” and don’t participate, so we get “Magpie” healthcare, repeating the same things over and over with no real results and little progress.  Public officials take notice, your lack of computer literacy is showing big time today and you can definitely fix that if you want things to move along faster and be the role models everyone is looking for out there and not the magpies. 

It’s vastly becoming a learn and help yourself world out there so directing consumers in the right direction is important as we are finding out even our leaders don’t have time to deal with it either.  Most providers certainly don’t have the time today either other than to send the patient in a direction whereby they can locate information with a schedule that sees a patient every 15 minutes.  BD   

When it comes to understanding medical information, even the most sophisticated patient may not be smarter than a fifth grader.

Even if a patients is able to understand sophisticated medical lingo, Mr. Sousa says, "most [medical] providers are too busy to take the time to sit down and explain the risks and benefits and potential complications, so we have to try and make patients better understand what they are consenting to."

Nearly nine out of 10 adults have difficulty following routine medical advice, largely because it's often incomprehensible to average people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. And that's bad for health care: Confused by scientific jargon, doctors' instructions and complex medical phrases, patients are more likely to skip necessary medical tests or fail to properly take their medications, the agency says. Studies show that poor health literacy drives up costs to the health-care system and worsens patient outcomes.

And some health insurers, doctors' practices and hospitals have begun using specialized software that scans documents looking for hard-to-understand words and phrases and suggests plain-English replacements. A patient-consent form warning of hyperpyrexia after a procedure, for example, might be translated to an abnormally high fever.

"People who have only limited ability to understand their choices in health care are more likely to have serious health problems and more likely to have their treatment delayed, which leads to higher costs," says Sara Rosenbaum, chair of the department of health policy at the George Washington University Medical Center, who participated in the study with the University of Connecticut.

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