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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
AUG 13, 2018
What's Up Doc? The Importance of Having Workers That Are Healthcare Literate
One of the largest factors affecting policyholders’ perceived quality of healthcare is healthcare literacy. Recently, thirteen healthcare organizations nationwide distributed a survey to almost 6,000 patients. The majority of these patients had self-reported health literacy challenges. They reported problems such as difficulty understanding written information about medical conditions, a lack of confidence in completing medical forms by themselves, and needing someone to help them read hospital/clinic materials.
Regardless of the industry, policyholders who improve their healthcare literacy can create a stronger, more effective relationship with their doctor and insurance carrier.
What is healthcare literacy?
Healthcare literacy is defined as a person’s ability to understand and act on health information. Evidence suggests that individuals who have limited healthcare literacy, or are healthcare illiterate, are more likely to:
Misunderstand health information
Face difficulty following medical instructions
Inappropriately use healthcare services
Experience higher risk of hospitalization
Have worse physical and mental health
A baseline for improvement
Healthcare literacy can be improved in a variety of ways. Policyholders can take one of many simple, online assessments to gauge their current literacy levels. They will be scored as below basic, basic, intermediate, or proficient. After the test, apps and websites can be utilized to supplement existing knowledge. Policyholders should also ask for clarification from healthcare professionals during checkups or procedures. It never hurts to follow up with more questions at a later date, either. Often times, more questions arise when the patient reflects on the appointment or instructions for further care.
Policyholders with intermediate or proficient scores can benefit from a more inclusive relationship with healthcare professionals. They are able to better describe symptoms, follow treatment plans — and most importantly feel involved in decisions regarding their health. They also have a greater understanding of health insurance — and can apply that knowledge to select a policy, interpret an invoice, or make financial decisions about treatments.
Healthcare literacy is particularly powerful in Workers’ Compensation cases, as it allows an individual to return to work faster. Injured workers will benefit from more comprehensive, personalized treatment plans. They can also monitor their progress more closely. While being injured is never ideal, the recovery process is much smoother when the policyholder, healthcare professionals and insurance carrier are able to communicate in a clear, detailed and efficient manner.