Ten Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations – Institute of Medicine – June 2012

Posted on July 3, 2012. Filed under: Patient Participation | Tags: , |

Ten Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations – Institute of Medicine – June 2012

Cindy Brach, Debra Keller, Lyla M. Hernandez, Cynthia Baur, Ruth Parker, Benard Dreyer, Paul Schyve, Andrew J. Lemerise, and Dean Schillinger,  Participants in the activities of the IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy.

“This paper describes 10 attributes of health literate health care organizations, that is, health care organizations that make it easier for people to navigate, understand, and use information and services to take care of their health. Having health literate health care organizations benefits not only the 77 million Americans who have limited health litera-cy, but also the majority of Americans who have difficulty understanding and using cur-rently available health information and health services (ODPHP, 2008).

Although health literacy is commonly defined as an individual trait—the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions (Ratzan and Parker, 2000)—there is a growing appreciation that health literacy does not depend on the skills of individuals alone (IOM, 2003). Health literacy is the product of individuals’ capacities and the health literacy–related demands and complexities of the health care system (Baker, 2006; Rudd 2003). System changes are needed to align health care demands better with the public’s skills and abilities (Parker, 2009; Rudd, 2007).  Health literacy has been identified as a priority area for national action, first by the Department of Health and Human Services as an objective for Healthy People 2010 (HHS, 2000), and again in the 2003 Institute of Medicine report Health Literacy: A Pre-scription to End Confusion (IOM, 2004). The following decade saw the achievement of many milestones that marked health literacy’s ascendency in both the public and private sectors (Parker and Ratzan, 2010), including a National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy (ODPHP, 2010). Health literacy has now reached a possible tipping point, the place where paying attention to it could quickly become the norm for health care organi-zations (Koh et al., 2012).”

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