Health literacy is key in promoting healthy communities. Unfortunately, very few U.S. adults have a high level of health literacy. This may not seem like a big deal, but the inability to understand health information creates problems for patients as well as healthcare professionals.
Healthcare marketers need to consider health literacy when establishing a healthcare marketing strategy. It’s important for health advocacy, for those who want to be viewed as a trustworthy source for online health information, or even just those who are focused on educating their patients.
What is health literacy?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 defines health literacy as, “the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand health information and services in order to make appropriate health decisions.”
There are two basic parts to health literacy: the capacity to understand health information, and the ability to apply that information.
Someone who is health literate is educated about health. They understand what it means to make positive decisions and good choices that lead to better health outcomes.
This includes understanding how to read prescription labels as well as food labels.
It includes knowing how to find a new doctor and knowing how your health insurance deductible works.
It’s knowing that smoking is bad for you, and so are sugar, fast food, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Health literacy applies to every aspect of health and wellness.
So why is health literacy important for healthcare marketers?
Health literacy produces healthy people and healthy communities, but it also makes it easier for healthcare professionals to work with patients. Limited health literacy creates a hurdle in communication between healthcare professionals and their audience.
You want to educate patients, but this can be difficult if your patients can’t understand or access your healthcare content. The health information you provide must be informative and accurate, but it must also be understandable.
Overcoming low health literacy
If you’re providing healthcare content or health information you need to make sure that the information is accurate, easy to find, accessible, and understandable.
You might think that health information should be accurate above all else, but that’s not really the case. These criteria are equally important.
Accurate health information is crucial, but if this information is written with a high level of diction, it may be unreadable for the average person. When your readers can’t understand content, they seek information that’s more accessible. In many cases, the health information that’s easiest to read is less accurate and less reliable.
Of course, easy to read and accuratedoesn’t mean much if it doesn’t show up in searches.
There’s a lot that can get in the way of educating your audience. Too much jargon, the use of unfamiliar medical terms, low reading skills, and even just competing with other online health information is just the beginning. It makes sense to seek help from professionals.
Contact Haden Interactive or call 479-966-9761 for information about our digital marketing services for healthcare professionals.