Enhancing Health Literacy Across a Health System

From left,Terri Ann Parnell, DNP, RN, Joanne Turnier, MS

From left,Terri Ann Parnell, DNP, RN,
Joanne Turnier, MS

Terri Ann Parnell and Joanne Turnier focused on the optimization of health literacy programs and education in healthcare settings. The presenters shared strategies for improving patient-centered care using health literacy in the North Shore LIJ Health System.

Their campaign focused on diversity and developing patient-centered and individualized care, and it recognized that health literacy is a key component of improving their healthcare system. In 2010–2011, they conducted an in-depth needs assessment, and in 2013 they began to integrate programs and the process of outcome measurement. They engaged stakeholders across sectors, including clinicians, medical students, public health workers, administrators, and people in marketing and advertising.

The overall process of implementing a broad-scope health literacy intervention at the program level required the work of many dedicated individuals. Buy-in from stakeholders was key, and particular focus was paid to the inclusion of diverse cultures and health needs. The process started with a rigorous needs assessment and progressed by developing resources and standards. The resources were delivered to the appropriate people.

There was also a focus on teaching and training around health literacy. Training and practice of health literacy for patient care was made mandatory where possible, and subsequently taken to the bedside for integration. Measurement and assessment were initiated, and quality improvement is continuous.