Limited health literacy is a hidden epidemic. It can affect health status, health outcomes, healthcare use, and health costs (Weiss). Regardless of literacy skill, patients are expected to manage multiple chronic conditions, comply with drug regimen(s), and home medical devices. Health literacy “affects every single thing we do.” said Susan Pisano
This may come at an alarm, or perhaps you could possibly see how having a better understanding of medical jargon can highly benefit and reduce the chances of confusion (Boodman). However, developing knowledge of medical terminology understanding may be perceived as too time-consuming, overwhelming, or just simply, don’t know where to begin.
“Limited health literacy is a hidden epidemic.” – BD Weiss
The goal of this article
Begin to bridge the gap between the literacy of clinicians and that of their patients to achieve more effective communication. Breaking the ice to understanding the medical world can be accomplished in two easy steps.
- Breaking Down Medical Jargon
Let’s go back to Weiss’ statement “Limited health literacy is a hidden epidemic. It can affect health status, health outcomes, healthcare use, and health costs.” This is huge; right? That lack of medical literacy affects 4 major components to achieving best possible health. We are confirmed with Pisano supporting claim [lack of health literacy] “affects every single thing that we do.”
- Carefully Read Each Statement.
Jotting down the list of Weiss’ claim, delving down into the deepened meaning of health literacy and the effects of health.
- Health Status
Health status refers to the measurement of one’s health. Being a participant in health status refers to the decision making capabilities and understanding the condition of health at any given moment (Rumsfeld).
- Health Outcomes
The concept of health outcomes is how you [ultimately] ended the state in your condition. Medical jargon affects your healthcare outcome by how you interpret health outcomes to your healthcare professional.
- Healthcare Use
Considered intentional or unintentional, consequences are still the same, For example, an elderly woman sent home from the hospital develops a life-threatening infection because she doesn’t understand the warning signs listed in the discharge instructions. Or a small business owner with bi-lateral knee surgery did not follow her physician’s strict orders to “move her knees” until 3 days after, she developed scar tissue and both of her knees that froze into the shape of the recliner in which she was recovering on. Thus preventing her from walking, driving, and standing for months following her surgery.
- Health Costs
The health care costs although significant, are minimal compared to the price the patients have to pay. Moreover, office visits, therapy co-pays, additional healthcare professionals needed to help in the recovery process is costly. The time and effort, not able to go to work, participate in family outings, and quality of life during recovery is more impactful.
Try to achieve effective communication and better understand healthcare professionals. Expanding knowledge of medical jargon will reduce stress, time, and confusion. Moreover, understanding health status, health outcomes, health use, and health costs greatly improve our medical decision-making capabilities.
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Continue this conversation on understanding medical jargon next week to simplify Heart Disease this month’s National Health Observation in just 2 easy steps. Heart Disease is the leading killer of both men and women.
Disclaimer: Article Not to be used in place of medical advice.
[Weiss BD, Hart G, McGee D, D’Estelle S. Health status of illiterate adults: the relation between literacy and health status among persons with low literacy skills. J Am Board Fam Pract. 1992 May–Jun;5(3):257–64]
[Boodman SG. Helping Patients Understand Their Medical Treatment. Kaiser Health News. http://khn.org/news/health-literacy-understanding-medical-treatment/. Published February 28, 2011. Accessed February 9, 2017.].
To learn more: Weebird Health Book “How to Get out of the Doctor’s Office Faster” has a section goes into the discussion about how to handle “Chronic Care Management” a podcast April 15th, 2017 will be broadcasted discussing the worksheet and the needs to know about chronic care management. and the 2 “must ask” questions that you should ask your doctor if heart disease is detected.