Flipping Health Literacy

Melinda Seed writes for Twice Diabetes
Melinda Seed writes for Twice Diabetes

They tell me it’s health literacy month and on October 20 health professionals are being called upon to pledge to “Drop the Jargon“-for a day. This is a good initiative and hopefully it will encourage doctors and others to pay more attention to how they communicate.

In an ideal world, every medical appointment should involve BOTH parties understanding and being understood. I’m not convinced about whether this is happening when I hear alarming stats that 60% of Australians have low health literacy.

This means that the majority of people in Australia have difficulty accessing, understanding and using health information as well as difficulty navigating the health system.”

I-am-a-failureReally? I can’t believe how blithely this statistic is thrown around. Taxpayers are paying for a system the majority of us have difficulty accessing and when we do we can’t understand what we find there. Is this as good as it gets?

Health illiteracy seems to be a deficiency we label people with, but when the majority of a population are deficient it makes me think that the issue is with the health system (or perhaps the measures it uses?) more than the skills of its users.

I’d like to take the concept of “drop the jargon” and extend it a bit. I challenge health care professionals with the words of Albert Einstein

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Albert Einstein

What a lot of healthcare professionals there are who don’t understand what they’re treating patients. Medical education needs to pull its socks up.

Frightening isn’t it?

What do you think can be done to help those who run the health system to understand it better, so that they can explain it simply?


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