My March blog at First Stop Health‘s invitation, an affordable medical advice service allowing healthcare consumers 24/7 telephone access to a doctor (including prescription filling), focused on the importance of health literacy. There is a direct relationship between a high health literacy score and good health. The opposite is also true: low health literacy has a high correlation with poor health.
A big part of healthcare reform and improved healthcare quality must include outreach to consumers to address literacy issues. Only then can the U.S. medical system attain notable achievements in care. Healthcare consumers also have a responsibility to insist that they understand doctors’ orders, are able to state exactly how their prescription medication should be taken, and to bravely ask questions when medical advice isn’t thoroughly understood.
This is not always easy for a patient to do — we are accustomed to permitting our healthcare providers to give instructions even if we don’t understand them. An easy way to get in the habit of opening a dialog with your doctor is to practice by asking easy questions to her nurse or perhaps your pharmacist. If you do not understand their answer, politely ask for clarification, or explain that you don’t understand some piece of their answer.
As you begin providing feedback through questions and establish a dialog with your doctor, your relationship likely will improve and both of you will stat to feel as though you are part of the same medical team in which the goal is your good health and quality-of-life.