health equity

Health Literacy Month: A time when we can work together to integrate and expand the mission of health literacy – to build a world where our collective efforts will lead to health equity, where all people can attain optimal health outcomes.

Health literacy is defined 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”.1

Let’s commit to recognizing the importance of making health information easy to understand and the health care system easier to navigate. We all have a responsibility to do better. Let’s work together to move health literacy awareness to health literacy action! #HealthLiteracyMonth

Access the Health Literacy Toolkit

The impact of low health literacy can include

  • medication errors
  • low rates of treatment compliance due to poor communication between providers and patients
  • reduced use of preventive services and unnecessary emergency room visits
  • ineffective management of chronic conditions, due to inadequate self-care skills
  • longer hospital stays and increased hospital re-admissions
  • poor responsiveness to public health emergencies
  • higher mortality

Compared to those with proficient health literacy, adults with low health literacy, also experience1:

  • 4 times higher health care costs
  • 6% more hospital visits
  • 2 day-longer hospital stays

There is an undeniable need for a broad commitment to organizational health literacy. The ramifications for not being able to access, understand and use vital health information can have devastating consequences. When an organization plans an initiative using health literacy principles as its foundation, it has the greatest opportunity to reach and impact the largest number of people. When health literacy principles are used as the foundation for improvement initiatives, health literacy is being embedded across the organization and am infrastructure is being built, which is important for long-term success.

Often there is an “Aha!” moment when someone realizes the impact or importance of health literacy. Watch this video, developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), which capture some ‘aha moments’


Learn more on these topics: Continuing the Conversation Series
This series was intended to continue the conversation; creating a space to dive into some of the interdependent components that impact the ability to achieve health equity. Leaders and subject matter experts across the Dakotas came together to share their expertise, personal experiences, best practices and application strategies. The June 14 Series focused on how health literacy impacts health equity. Access the recording to learn more.


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Listen to our Podcast – Q-Tips For Your Ears!

Health Literacy: Improving health literacy is one way to advance health equity. Understand what health literacy is, who it affects and strategies that can be done to improve health literacy.

1. 1 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). “Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit.”
2. Partnership for Clear Health Communication at the National Patient Safety Foundation.