Communication: Improving Relationships, Learning and… Healthcare?

Healthcare can be a daunting topic for most Americans.  There is a very negative stigma attached to it: expensive, complex and bureaucratic – just to name a few.  According to the HealthLiteracyFactst2009(1), eighty-eight percent of Americans aged 16 and older do not have proficient health literacy.  Unable to interpret clinical information, like prescriptions, health charts and make informed health decisions, they are risking their health and exhausting the services provided to them.  By improving the dynamics of health literacy, health providers can eliminate the current breach in communication, lowering high administrative costs and increasing steady healthcare enrollment.

Kaiser Permanente released their annual survey findings of the 50-State Survey of Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility and Enrollment this week.  The survey identified how effective states were this past year at increasing child enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP. Most impressive was Massachusetts’ results who reported 99.5% of their children eligible enrolled in the programs.  Dayanne Leal, Manager of Children’s Health Policy and Outreach and Healthcare for All, used her creativity to achieve this impressive goal. Adhering to the theories similar to the National Coalition for Literacy, Leal broke down the communication barrier between those who were health illiterate by using radio, newspaper ads and community involvement.  Breaking the Medicaid and CHIP opportunities down to a comprehensible level created optimal rewards: long term enrollment, which gives private and public domains the ability to keep closer tabs on what is working and what is failing.  Health literacy has the potential of giving states long-term benefits.

Healthcare is so large and all-encompassing that it leaves people behind.  Health literacy is one way states can keep people enrolled and states informed.