Task force meets, discusses how to improve health literacy

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The Alabama Healthcare Improvement Task Force held the Alabama Health Literacy Partnership’s Stakeholders Meeting Friday morning in the auditorium of the Montgomery County Health Department.

A wide array of healthcare service providers were in attendance, including pharmacists, nurses and more, to discuss ways to improve health literacy in the state and thereby improve the health of citizens.

Dr. Ron Franks, director of the task force, gave opening remarks before welcoming Gov. Robert Bentley.

After briefly discussing how “critically important” it is to increase the number of healthy people in the state, Franks praised Bentley for taking on the task of being “Alabama’s doctor” and addressing the healthcare needs of Alabama citizens.

Bentley began his remarks by discussing the tendency of healthcare providers to use technical language and speak over the heads of their patients, noting that a doctor’s smartest patients will only comply with prescription directions 41 percent of the time.

“The literacy of our patients is so important,” Bentley said. “We need education not only on the side of the patients, we need education on the side of the providers.”

Bentley encouraged those in attendance to use simpler terms when discussing treatment with patients, adding that health literacy is only one way to help Alabama citizens become healthier.

“I’m tired of being last in quality of life issues,” Bentley said. “And we don’t have to be. We’re just trying to make Alabamians healthier.”

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