2. Complement oral instructions by providing patients with easy-to-read educational materials on diagnosis and treatment.
3. Implement the “teach back” method, prompting patients to explain the information a medical provider has given them in their own words. If your doctor is not doing these things, talk to him or her about streamlining communications at the office.
Our country has expanded health care coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act, but too many individuals cannot read their prescription instructions; they do not understand their hospital discharge papers; they cannot decipher their treatment plans; and they misinterpret their diagnoses and prognoses. The results can be damaging, costly, and even deadly. Only when health care professionals begin to clearly communicate with patients will we be able to mitigate health literacy problems and ensure better health care outcomes.