Do you know what ‘Health Literacy Month’ is?
October is Health Literacy Month. Health Literacy is defined in the Institute of Medicine report, “Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion,” as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” Health literacy is not simply the ability to read. It requires the ability to understand complex ideas and the ability to apply decision making skills to health situations. For example, it includes the ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctor’s directions and consent forms, and the ability to negotiate complex health care systems. To do this, patients may need to be visually literate and able to understand graphs and visual information, computer literate and able to use today’s technology options, information literate to be able to obtain and apply relevant information and be numerically literate to calculate or reason numerically.
When did they start October as Health Literacy Month?
The National Library of Medicine started October as Health Literacy Month in 1999. It was first observed on October 20th, so every year since then has had an official start date for Health Literacy Month, which is designated as the third Monday of October each year. Some people have moved the celebration to promote better health practices and behaviors throughout the entire month (including National Health Literacy Month in September), but the National Library of Medicine stuck with its original designation for October.
Why did they start designating a month to health literacy?
The main reason behind the decision was to increase awareness about how important health literacy education is for everyone and to help people understand that better ways of communicating can have a big impact on many health issues. The National Library of Medicine realized how important these topics were and decided to start incorporating them into the month, which has helped people all over the country learn more about health literacy and its essential role in improving public health.
AACOS Celebrates Health Literacy Month
At Asthma and Allergy Associates we take health literacy seriously. It has been said that patients and their families may only remember 30 percent of what they are told at a doctor’s appointment. At our office we use the entire team – front desk, transcriptionist, nurses, nurse practitioner, and physicians – to make sure that you leave with a clear assessment and plan. When we implemented a computerized medical record 3 years ago that included one important criterion: the ability to print a plan for patients and their families. We often mail our initial consultation letters to the referring doctors and to patients. This way you can see what went into our thought process leading to the assessment and plan. We also have the resources and can support vision impaired or non-English speaking patients.
Every year, we help hundreds of people with Asthma Action Plans and Food Allergy Action Plans. Dr. Soteres and Dr. Webb perform multiple volunteer talks to health advocacy groups and schools. In fact, in the past, Dr. Soteres spoke at MOSAIC (Mothers of Severely Allergic Infants and Children) in Colorado Springs and spoke at the District 20 Food Allergy Summit as the keynote speaker. Our wonderful physicians, immunologists and allergists care about the local community and work hard to educate everyone around them. If you ever have any questions, or want information on the next public speaking session one of them gives, just give us a call today! We would be glad to assist you. AACOS is here to help you and your needs!