Health literacy design principles evolved since the 1990’s by defining, redefining, and quantifying the functional literacy needs of a patient population, specifically focused on the literacy level of the audience. Through research and time-tested methodologies, it became apparent that a low literacy level can have an effect on an audience’s understanding of their health and their healthcare behaviors. This low literacy level has been proven to be a barrier that prevents someone from better serving their ability of “taking their healthcare under their own control”. This literacy challenge can have a profound effect on how well one understands their own unique healthcare situation and when communicating with healthcare professionals (HCPs), community entities, family, and peers.
Health literacy is dependent on several individual and systemic factors, such as:
Health literacy affects people’s ability to:
Whether print or digital, the understanding principles of health literacy play a key role in determining what a designer needs to understand. The scope of health literacy extends from the conceptual stage, writing, design implementation, testing if applicable and final dissemination into the community. Plain language is the methodology of constructing written content so that a defined audience can “Find”, “Understand”, and “Use” the information to better serve their own healthcare needs.
The Plain Writing Act of 2010 defines plain language consisting of writing that is clear, concise, well-organized and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience.
So as you can see, health literacy has a set of guidelines and a foundation of principles that a project needs to consider in order to ensure the best communication tool for the audience. In subsequent articles to follow, I will explain in more depth some of the “visual” considerations that play a key role in health literacy. Bottom line, if your next communication tool can potentially be affected by a segment of your audience that has a low literacy level, health literacy must play a role.
Allow me to bring my medical and healthcare communication design experience to your next healthcare initiatives. I look forward to taking part as a health literacy designer to better serve “your” audience by helping them reach their goals to understand their own healthcare needs.
Call me at 732.996.6328 to learn more about what GV CERV Communications health literacy design and development services can do for your next communication challenge.