Pharmacy Website

Resources to Promote Health Literacy

Health Literacy: the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions. Increasingly viewed as a patient safety issue, health literacy improves health outcomes, reduces medication errors, and lowers healthcare costs. 

Health literacy means the ability to read and comprehend prescription bottles, appointment slips, and the other essential health-related materials provided by health professionals. Without an understanding of written communications, patients are much less likely to act in ways that promote their health and well-being. 

Difficulty in understanding and acting on health information puts 90 million people in the U.S. at risk. The result: more emergency room visits, worse outcomes for chronic illness, higher healthcare costs.

The Health Literacy Coalition brings together Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Rutgers University, and various pharmaceutical companies to develop and utilize existing programs to improve overall health literacy and health outcomes. Working groups, comprised of representatives from these organizations are carrying out collaborative projects.  Four groups are targeting literacy about specific disease states:

·         diabetes

·         hypertension

·         hyperlipidemia

·         asthma

These chronic disease states were chosen because of their significant impact on public health. Each group is identifying goals and measurable outcomes associated with increased health literacy. A fifth working group is overseeing the project as a whole.

The health literacy initiative is designed to enhance patients’ capacity to read and understand basic health information and act in ways that enhance appropriate health decisions. Community initiatives will increase awareness of the importance of health literacy, enhance patients’ skills and understanding, and improve health outcomes.

Check out the links on this page for materials that pharmacists, pharmacy students, and patients can use to enhance understanding of critical health issues.

 Also see the new webpage for the New Jersey Health Literacy Coalition.