Health Literacy Resources for Pharmacies

February 26, 2012
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The AHRQ has released resources to help hospitals address Pharmacy Health Literacythe degree to which individuals are able to obtain, process, and understand basic health and medication information and pharmacy services needed to make appropriate health decisions. 

The tools present an opportunity for hospital pharmacies to improve their patient experiences and outcomes because:

The AHRQ has released resources to help hospitals address Pharmacy Health Literacythe degree to which individuals are able to obtain, process, and understand basic health and medication information and pharmacy services needed to make appropriate health decisions. 

The tools present an opportunity for hospital pharmacies to improve their patient experiences and outcomes because:

  • Only 12% of adults have proficient health literacy (e.g., can interpret the prescription label correctly).
  • Medication errors are likely higher with patients with limited health literacy, as they are more likely to misinterpret the prescription label information and auxiliary labels.
  • Studies document an association between low literacy and poor health outcomes.

This is important because:

    • Pharmacists are responsible for making sure patients obtain the maximum positive health outcomes from their medications.
    • Pharmacists care for patients with low to high education levels, low to high incomes, and multiple races of people; all of whom may have limited health literacy.
    • Medication errors are likely higher with patients with limited health literacy.
    • Studies document an association between low literacy and poor health outcomes.
    • Pharmacists are one of the most accessible health care providers.
    • Addressing literacy is an important quality improvement effort because it ties to an organization’s HCAHPS scores and will ultimately impact reimbursement.

    The Pharmacy Health Literacy resources include tools to address staff communications and conduct health literacy assessments using the Facilitator’s Guide for Patient Focus Groups.  It also includes a Health Literacy Assessment Survey of pharmacy staff “How Health Literacy Friendly Are We?” for some self-reflection.  The staff survey covers an assessment of print materials, verbal communications and sensitivity to literacy.

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