February 1, 2012

Health literacy...it's just so hot right now!

Health literacy! Health literacy! Let it ring!

You MUST have heard of health literacy by now, right?!? Have we come to the point where we can stop starting conversations with, "health literacy can be defined as..." or "health literacy means..."

No, I guess not. Sighhhh. We are getting close though! Maybe it's just because I'm engulfed in the world of health literacy every day, but it seems like the field is finally starting to blow up! When I started working with the Literacy Coalition in 2009, a Google search of health literacy brought up a few measly resources. Nowadays health literacy is "the cool" thing to be talking about.

"Psshhh, yeah right!" you say. Well, it's true. And I've got some examples to prove it!

First off, although federal policy may not be deemed "cool," per se, health literacy is definitely blowing up the federal policy mini-feed. Check out this great new article that outlines 3 major federal initiatives that are pushing health literacy forward: 1) Affordable Care Act (aka healthcare reform, aka Obamacare), 2) Department of Health and Human Services' National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy and finally, 3) Plain Writing Act of 2010.

Another indicator of health literacy's coolness factor is this new national social media campaign. The campaign slogan is "R U an Xtreme Teen?" Seriously? With R U and X?!?! You can't tell me that's not cool.  

Ok, seriously now, health literacy REALLY IS blowing up. Both new developments mentioned above, along with Joint Commission standards changing in October 2012 to include standards requiring the use of "effective communication", and all the buzz around improving discharge (that'll be another blog post...or could be an entire blog in itself!), you'll be hearing A LOT more about this health literacy business in 2012.

So hop on the train! Start talking about it, teaching it, blogging, tweeting, status-ing... Even the big shots are endorsing health literacy these days. I heard former Surgeon General Richard Carmona speak at a health literacy summit in Madison, WI where he said, “Health literacy is the currency for success in everything we do. In search of the holy grail for healthcare, we can no longer afford to keep health literacy on the sidelines.”

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