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Anniversary of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy

Posted on by Cynthia Baur

Today is one year and one month after the public release of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. The Health Literacy Workgroup at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sponsored the Action Plan, and we have spent the last year promoting it as a strategic planning tool. The plan has broad goals and strategies that cover every sector and organization in our society that provides health information and services.

Yet, even though this is a national plan, it can be used by one organization or a small group of organizations to identify their own action steps to improve health literacy. The National Action Plan is the tool to help you think strategically about your contribution to health literacy improvement. You can use CDC’s planning tool to help you with the process.

We will bring down the barriers to health literacy when we take action at all levels of our society – in the most overtaxed primary care clinics and in the big city health departments and government agencies that create and distribute health information on a mass scale. 

If you want ideas about what organizations large and small already are doing to improve health literacy, check out the postings on the LINCS Health Literacy listserv for the week of April 25, 2011. Happy Anniversary!

Posted on by Cynthia Baur

5 comments on “Anniversary of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy”

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    We are having another annual Story Sharing Discussion about using the National Action Plan!

    April 30 – May 4, 2012

    For a description about this discussion, including guest speaker info, prep reading, etc, see the link here:

    We have had two discussions already about using the National Action Plan (NAP) in our work, and there is surely more work and deeper work going on each year. Our goal is to share stories every Spring so we can see how our work is part of a grand national effort, and so we can access this growing network of ideas and supporters.

    Last year’s Sharing of NAP Stories took place just before the Institute for Healthcare Advancement’s (IHA’s) Health Literacy Conference, and our stories were used to kick off a unique social media event. We are doing that again this year, and Michael Villaire will be telling us more this week.

    Cynthia Baur will also be on the discussion and share some updates to NAP-guided projects that were shared last year, and some unique ways that states are working together and using the NAP to guide a regional effort.

    I read the National Action Plan while cruising the Carribean. I found it very informative and inspiring. I am glad there is an opportunity to view what other organizations, companies, etc. have done to improve our current health care system. Toolkits with links to resources (evidenced based resources), websites, etc. would greatly help others to institute these programs. At the end of the day, a blueprint with specific steps on how to create a program is more beneficial than simply an outline. Especially since, many times it is one individual that serves as the catalyst for change.

    Stephanie Wilborne APRN FNP

    It is indeed inspiring — especially for those of us working in Australia, where there are scattered and largely unco-ordinated efforts to raise the profile of health literacy. While major framework documents on health reform, chronic disease, primary care, and men’s and women’s health all acknowledge the importance of health literacy, no one has claimed or been given ‘ownership’ of the issue, and there is little of what could be called ‘momentum’. A visit to South Australia a few years ago by Illona Kickbusch was helpful, particularly in relation to thinking about the role of HL in disease prevention and health-related decisions in everyday life. I suppose that the benefit of being so far behind the USA is that we will be in an excellent position to benefit from the lessons learned!

    It is inspiring to see what a variety of useful, practical projects have been done using the National Action Plan as a catalyst and guide! As Cynthia said, the LINCS Health Literacy Discussion List collected stories from all over the country to see how different kinds of organizations – both large and small – have used the Action Plan.

    Here is a link where you can view a transcript of the discussion all in one place:

    You can also see how the topic was discussed further at a social media event at the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA) conference the following week!

    Health Literacy is so needed as I worked at USPHS and WHO Asia and one whose focus is on Patient and Health Education. I was in NYC Mobile Health Expo and was the only presenter on patient education everyone else was focused on HIT or Mobile Health Apps or Wellness.

    Patient education requires social behavorial tools to have the public be aware of daibetes, smoking and health etc.

    Mobile health can assist with text messaging and alerts and social health media all aspects. MY 4 C’s coordinate, collaborate, communicate and cooperate are keys to raising awareness of health issues.

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