Ravenna – “Health Literacy” is the ability to read, understand and find health information. A large gap exists between the way healthcare issues are communicated and how most people understand that communication. In fact, according to the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, nearly 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty using routine health information.

Robison Memorial Hospital recognizes how important it is for the community to have a good understanding of their health and is taking steps to educate and assist Portage County to better health literacy.

In early 2012, Robinson Memorial Hospital implemented a health literacy policy that supports patient and family education. The purpose of the policy is to provide patients and families with educational materials and health information that is clear and easy to understand.

The hospital also purchased health literacy advisory software that will take education materials, measure the literacy level, and make changes to the piece, creating a clear and easy to understand piece of communication. All new patient education materials are run through the health literacy software program before making its way to the patient.

The health literacy advisory software was purchased through a donation made to the Robinson Memorial Hospital Foundation from Linda Sandvoss, in memory of her late husband Norm Sandvoss.

On September 26, Robinson Memorial Hospital held a health literacy talk for the community. Dr. Ruth Ludwick, Director of Nursing Research at Robinson Memorial  Hospital spoke to the community about how to ask questions and how to talk to your healthcare provider to get answers.

Dr. Ludwick, emphasized the Ask Me 3 ® approach to consumers looking for health information.

Ask Me 3, supported by the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), is a program for public education intended to help increase communication between patients and their providers;  help them become active partners in their healthcare  and improve their  health results.

The Ask Me 3 questions are:

1) What is my main problem?

2) What do I need to do?

3) Why is it important for me to do this?

Dr. Ludwick’s presentation included audience participation and many in attendance shared stories about the importance of asking questions.

One participant summed up the night’s experience stating, “Teaching patients to talk to their healthcare providers (and vice versa) relieves anxiety and frustration for both parties and helps the patient to attain higher quality healthcare. Better communication with your healthcare providers and a better understanding of your care means fewer mistakes, less calls to the doctor and less anxiety. This all equals better health.  It’s a win, win situation.”