The Impact of Increasing Health Literacy on Patient Outcomes

Many patients struggle to understand and effectively navigate the healthcare system, which is known as a lack of health literacy. Low health literacy levels are common, with a staggering 60% of Canadians being classified as health illiterate. This issue is more prevalent among disadvantaged populations and can lead to negative health outcomes and increased healthcare costs.

This can have a significant impact on patient outcomes, adding pressure to the healthcare system. Patients with low health literacy may struggle to manage their health effectively, leading to higher rates of hospitalization, medication errors, and poor disease management. They may also be less likely to seek preventive care, leading to more advanced illness and higher treatment costs. By finding solutions to increase health literacy, hospitals can improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

Poor Patient Outcomes

When patients lack health literacy, it can set them back in their ability to manage their own needs effectively. They may struggle to self-manage diseases and take preventative measures, leading to overusing healthcare resources and ultimately higher mortality rates. This can create a cycle of poor health that is difficult to break, leading to a higher reliance on the healthcare system.

Overusing Resources

People with low health literacy tend to overuse healthcare resources, primarily because they struggle to navigate the healthcare system and understand their own health needs. They may rely more heavily on emergency departments and other acute care settings, which can be costly and inefficient. In addition, they may be more likely to seek unnecessary medical interventions or tests, which can further drive up healthcare costs.

Patients who are more health literate may be better able to identify their own health needs and take proactive steps to manage their health, reducing the need for acute care settings and other expensive healthcare interventions.

Difficulty Self-Managing

People with chronic diseases and low health literacy often struggle to manage their disease independently. They may have difficulty understanding their treatment plan, monitoring their symptoms, and communicating with their healthcare providers. This can lead to medication errors and missed appointments.

Patients who are more health literate may be better able to navigate the healthcare system, understand their treatment options, and communicate more effectively with their healthcare providers. This can lead to better management of chronic conditions, reduced healthcare costs, and improved quality of life for patients. 

Lack of Prevention

People with low health literacy often do not utilize preventive measures to improve their health outcomes, such as regular check-ups, screenings, and immunizations. This can lead to the development of more advanced and costly health conditions that could have been prevented. Moreover, patients with low health literacy may not understand the importance of preventive measures or how to access them.

By increasing health literacy, patients can become more aware of the importance of preventive measures and how to access them. They may be more likely to seek regular check-ups, screenings, and immunizations, leading to earlier detection and treatment of health conditions and reduced healthcare costs. 

Higher Mortality Rates

People with low health literacy have higher mortality rates, primarily because they have difficulty understanding their own health needs and navigating the healthcare system. They may delay seeking care, fail to comply with treatment plans, or have difficulty managing their own health, which can lead to more serious health conditions and poor health outcomes.

Increasing health literacy can help to address this issue by improving patients’ ability to manage their own health effectively, seek appropriate care when needed, and make informed decisions about their care. When patients are more health literate they may be better able to understand their own health needs, identify potential health risks, and take proactive steps to manage their health, leading to improved health outcomes and reduced mortality rates.

Finding a Solution With RPM

Remote patient management (RPM) can help increase health literacy and improve patient outcomes. With remote patient management, patients can receive medical care and support from the comfort of their own homes, reducing the barriers to accessing healthcare services.

Through RPM, patients can receive education and resources about their health conditions, medications, and treatment options, which can help improve their health literacy. They can also communicate with their healthcare providers more easily and frequently, which can lead to more personalized care and better management of their health conditions. Remote patient monitoring devices can also help patients better understand their own health needs by providing real-time feedback on their symptoms and vital signs.

Improving Canadian Outcomes

Health literacy is an important skill to improve patient independence and well-being, as well as remove pressure on the healthcare system. Remote patient management is a potential solution. It has the potential to help patients become more engaged in their own care, take more proactive steps to manage their health and achieve better health outcomes.

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