SOURCE: Institute for Healthcare Advancement

Institute for Healthcare Advancement

April 13, 2009 10:40 ET

IHA Offers New Service to Improve "Readability" of Patient Education Materials

LA HABRA, CA--(Marketwire - April 13, 2009) - Citing studies indicating that there are an estimated 90 million low literate adults in the U.S., the La Habra-based Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA), a non-profit organization that has been a pioneer in the field of health literacy in the U.S., has introduced an innovative Health Literacy Rewrite and Redesign Service.

The new service is designed to help those who create and distribute health-related materials for patients by rewriting and redesigning them to standards that help ensure they are more understandable for the more than 90 million American adults who are unable to read above a fifth-grade level.

Here is how the service works. Upon being contacted by an interested organization or medical practice, the IHA health literacy team will offer a complimentary initial evaluation of a representative patient education document currently being used by the client. After completing this evaluation, the IHA team will provide a report to the client on the grade reading level of the document and how it scores in suitability for a low literate user. Services offered by IHA range from a simple rewrite to achieve a lower grade reading level more appropriate for the reading levels of their patients, to a complete redesign. Translation, printing and delivery services are available as well.

"Depending upon the results of the initial document evaluation and what the client is interested in doing, we can proceed using established techniques and standards and design principles for rewriting the materials to ensure more widespread comprehension, graphic redesign to increase the understanding of their materials, translation of the materials into other languages, hosting of focus groups to 'real-world' test the readability of the materials, and even obtaining print bids and overseeing the print process for them," explained Michael Villaire, MSLM, director of programs and operations at IHA.

According to Gloria Mayer, R.N., Ed.D., CEO of IHA, the organization's new Health Literacy Rewrite and Redesign Service represents the first time they have offered consulting services to complement their other education, publishing and conference programs.

"We have worked for years to educate healthcare providers about the serious issue of health literacy and to help them formulate solutions, so we felt that now was the time to take the next step and offer them an inexpensive consulting service that would actually work with them in a hands-on way to improve the comprehension of their patient education materials," said Dr. Mayer.

Health literacy is a crisis-level issue in America. More than 87 million Americans (36%, or more than 1 in 3) only have basic or below basic health literacy skills, which is defined as the ability to read, understand, and act on health information to make appropriate decisions. These decisions include understanding how to take your medicine, prepare for a medical test, or care for yourself or a loved one's chronic illness, such as diabetes, asthma, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. These skills extend beyond direct health care as well, and include such activities as signing up for, and understanding how to use, health insurance and the healthcare system.

IHA is a La Habra-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering people to better health. It is nationally recognized for its efforts in health literacy and provides healthcare information through its various publishing efforts, the Internet, and its renowned local and national education programs. For more information, please go to www.iha4health.org.

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