“RHLC works with health care providers to make the exchange of health information as comfortable and nurturing as possible,” says Progar. “We’ve found that many assume their patients understand more than they do. We’re asking providers to take responsibility for more effective communication. We recommend an approach called “teach back.” With “teach back,” doctors help patients put instructions into patients’ words. This lets providers know whether patients really understand what they need to do. We want all providers to get into the habit of talking with every patient that way.”
If people’s providers do not take this approach, RHLC recommends asking questions. The three most important questions are:
• What is my main problem?
• What do I need to do?
• Why is it important for me to do this?
People’s health depends on their being able to understand health information, to make informed decisions and to have clear communication with their health care providers. Health care providers, community members and community advocates can all work together to improve health understanding and healthy outcomes. For more information on RHLC, visit their Web site at www.ahealthyunderstanding.org. Other resources for improving health literacy can be found in the Helpful Information box on this page.
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