How-To Tips

Health Literacy

Each month, Helen Osborne posts tips about how to communicate health information more clearly. Here is a listing of some recent HLC (Health Literacy Consulting) How-To Tips:

  • The Caring Part of Healthcare December 1, 2022
    Many of us chose the work we do because of a desire to help others. But this intent can sometimes get overlooked midst an overwhelming amount of workplace demands. Here are some tips to help you focus again on the caring part of healthcare. Caring for others. Demonstrate caring not just with your words but also ...
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  • Improve Your Health Literacy – NextAvenue.org November 15, 2022
    “Improve Your Health Literacy,” by Debbie L. Miller. Posted November 3, 2022 in the national publication for older adults, NextAvenue.org. I was honored to be interviewed for this online article about health literacy. It highlights many aspects that affect older adults. These include health literacy skills, tips for patients, and how teamwork helps. Click the article’s ...
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  • Helping Patients Problem Solve November 1, 2022
    The more I hear from family and friends about medical mishaps, the more convinced I am that patients need yet another skill—the ability to independently problem solve what to do in unplanned or unfamiliar situations. Some musings about how health professionals can help patients problem solve: Appreciate that patients will have “oops” moments. Perhaps a patient forgets to ...
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  • Brief Recap of Health Literacy History October 1, 2022
    Curious to know how, when, why, and who helped health literacy get started, a while ago I posted a query on the online Health Literacy Discussion list. Here is a brief recap of what people shared about the history of health literacy. 1974. The first mention of the term “health literacy” was in a monograph by ...
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  • Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Other Healthcare Shorthand September 1, 2022
    Imagine what it’s like to be suddenly injured or ill. You or your family member calls 911. EMTs arrive and take you to the nearest ER or ED. You or someone in your family is given a lot of paperwork, including HIPAA notification. The doctors and nurses say you need an IV, MRI, EKG, and CT scan. And all this before being admitted to the ICU. Now ...
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  • Using Visuals to Teach August 1, 2022
    Maybe you know visual learners like me—people who learn best when watching demonstrations or seeing drawings and photographs. Visuals can go a long way toward helping others understand health care concepts and instructions. Here are some how-to’s: Acquire the artwork you need. There are many ways to acquire needed artwork. You might begin by looking online for ...
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  • Making Numbers Make Sense July 1, 2022
    Health information is filled with numbers. This includes concepts such as quantity, time, and risk. But patients, caregivers, and the lay public often struggle to understand and use such numbers. Here are a dozen (12) ways to help make numbers make sense to others. Quantity: Confirm which measurement system to use, such as ounces or grams. Mark how ...
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  • Creative Ways to Communicate Serious Health Messages June 1, 2022
    Health messages tend to be about serious topics. But must these messages always be communicated in somber (some might say, boring) ways? I think not. Instead, you might consider adding a dose of creativity. Creativity is rooted in the philosophy that people have more capacity to learn when they are engaged and relaxed. It is often ...
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  • Readable Writing Starts with Good Organization May 1, 2022
    Where do you begin when writing documents that readers must understand? In my experience, the best place to start is with organization–matching your information to the interests, abilities, and existing knowledge of the intended audience. Here’s how-to: Assemble a writing team. It takes a team to write a readable document. Team members should include one or more ...
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  • Continuum of Care April 1, 2022
    Health care can happen in many settings, at different times, and with almost infinite pairings of patients, caregivers, and providers. In other words, health care today can happen at all stages of what is commonly referred to as the “continuum of care.” For simplicity’s sake, I divide this continuum into four stages, each with distinct tasks ...
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  • Confirm Understanding: Feedback March 1, 2022
    Just because we say something, just because we write it, just because we know this information is important does not necessarily mean that the person we are communicating with will be able to read, relate to, and follow this information. It is vital that we confirm that messages are truly understood. This month’s How-To-Tip is about using ...
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  • Using Teach-Back to Confirm Understanding February 1, 2022
    It is vital that we as health communicators confirm that our messages are truly understood. Two important ways to do this are with teach-back (for the spoken word) and feedback (for print and web information).  This month’s How-To Tip looks at teach-back. This is a back-and-forth verbal exchange used to assess whether both sides of a ...
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