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Old man sitting on hospital bed and having conversation with doctor
January 15, 2020

Help Us Improve Literacy in SC

We are asking for your help.

South Carolina Hospital Association and researchers at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health along with community partners have teamed up to develop an initiative focused on improving patient health literacy and patient-provider communication.

The program was developed in response to an all too familiar story that was shared about a patient who arrived frequently in need of hospital stays. After admission and treatment her condition would improve, but she would be discharged only to return for readmittance in a week or two. A deeper conversation followed by a home visit revealed that the patient could not read and did not understand how to appropriately take her medication. In a nutshell, she had limited health literacy.

Limited health literacy is associated with higher healthcare costs and elevated morbidity and mortality rates. It can result in high hospital readmission rates, low perceived trust in the healthcare system, and poor self-care management and treatment outcomes.

Nationally 12% of US adults have proficient health literacy skills and South Carolina has the 13th highest rate of functional illiteracy in the U.S. Improving this is key in reducing physician load, decreasing repeat medical visits, and improving patient experiences and quality ratings/scores.

This health literacy initiative is aimed at assessing patient communication needs followed by implementation of a simple, evidenced-based strategy to improve health literacy, patient-provider communication and health outcomes.

The simple, evidenced-based strategy uses three basic questions (“What is my main problem?”, “What do I need to do about it?”, “Why is it important for me to do this?”) to help patients better understand their diagnosis and treatment plan.

Our goal is to gain feedback from as many clinics in South Carolina as possible regarding their excitement and readiness to implement this simple and effective communication strategy.  Twenty clinics will be selected to participate based on survey results, in-person interviews, and a site visit.

Clinics selected will receive at no cost all materials, hands on training, and technical support necessary for successful intervention implementation. Note that clinics will receive $25 for completing this initial survey and then $100 following implementation of the AskMe3 program if selected.

Survey completion is necessary for study participation consideration.

Access clinic survey via this clinic survey link here. For more information on Health Literacy, please watch this brief AMA video.