Nursing encompasses patient healthcare, promotes health, prevents illness, and provides care to every patient regardless of their age, group, and community. For a professional nurse who cares for different patient populations, health literacy is an important competence to provide patient-centered care and help communicate effectively. Health literacy is considered a contributing social factor and is a precursor to health as it influences health outcomes. In addition, it empowers and engages patients to retrieve health services and make informed decisions by implementing health information. Even though nurses play a major role in promoting health literacy, a lack of expertise and knowledge is seen in different healthcare settings. Understanding health literacy can make it much more than just a reading level of patient-related education material.
Nurses Must Embrace Health Literacy
Despite the extensive professional education, many nurses struggle to understand health literacy properly. As a result, they can’t identify that skill in the patients either. The addition of more information about health literacy in continuing education programs can help improve patient care and health outcomes. Nurse professionals must improve their ability to deliver information in plain language to help their patients understand the instructions easily. To learn health literacy and advance their career in the medical field, these nurse professionals can opt for the nursing masters online degree program. Such distance learning programs enable nurses to continue their current job while learning new skills. Also, it opens new career opportunities for nurses, such as becoming a nurse manager and professional in health informatics. By improving their health literacy skill, these nurses can help improve patient’s health literacy too.
Here are five effective ways nurses can improve health literacy in patient care!
1. Recommending Mobile Applications to improve health literacy
People can now easily access health information by using the apps. Some mobile apps could handle an entire range of health-related problems. It encompasses preventive strategies such as good nutrition, workout, and manage acute to chronic conditions. For instance, some mobile apps act as a medical tool that collects their health data relating to their sugar levels and heart rate. These apps can also function as a source of general health information. Nurses and other health care professionals can encourage their patients to use these mobile apps. It will help enhance health literacy among the patients and ensure a better health outcome.
2. Utilize Plain Language
While discussing important health-related issues with your patient, all healthcare providers need to use simple language, particularly when a patient lacks health literacy skills. You need to deliver all the instructions and health information to your patient straightforwardly so that it’s easy to absorb. Also, it would help if you refrained from using medical terminologies that only a medical professional can understand. Nurses and other healthcare providers are advised to accentuate instructions and describe rationale with simple examples.
3. Utilize Pictures and Graphics
Today all healthcare settings have implemented printed materials to explain important health information to their patients. It is proved by various research studies that people learn much better through visuals than texts, and it also seems a more interesting way of learning. Healthcare professionals are now more inclined towards using images and graphics as an effective way of health improvement. Nurses provide their patients with various literature such as diagrams, pamphlets, or online resources with more informational graphics than simple text. It is an attractive and effective way to enhance health literacy among patients.
4. Advanced Technology to Connect More Patients
Like EHR platforms, more developments have been seen in technology so far. For instance, telemedicine solutions and patient portals enable patients to have high-quality communication with medical professionals. The HHS advises that every healthcare professional use these tools to reach a wide range of patients at once efficiently. Nurses today utilize patient portals as a useful tool to deliver essential health information such as treatment directions and test outcomes. Another way to assess and treat various patient populations is by utilizing telemedicine. It is more beneficial for patients in rural areas and who have limited mobility. Nurses and medical experts can efficiently link with underserved patients, enhancing health literacy levels with more tech tools at their disposal.
5. Create Strong Community Connections
Nurses and other Healthcare providers must go beyond their medical practices to improve health literacy. As described by HHS, that indicates the efforts to partner with local community groups to help circulate crucial health information. It can be a reminder to get flu shots, campaigns to improve screening for various cancer types such as prostate, colon, cervical, and breast cancer, or eating nutritious food and doing more exercise. Healthcare professionals, nurses, and nurse managers should collaborate with community organizations, including local libraries and religious organizations. In addition, they should work efficiently with local communities to ensure every patient is receiving proper care and necessary treatments.
Nurse professionals in any field like emergency room nurse, operating room nurse and intensive care unit nurse are working hard to improve health literacy among their patients and implementing effective strategies to make the informed decisions relating to patient care. They are providing them with the best treatment demand proper health literacy skills. Nurses must also embrace this skill to effectively deliver health information, treat underserved patient populations, and improve treatment outcomes. It is the responsibility of medical professionals to keep their patients informed and ensure they have understood health literacy by all means.
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