5 strategies for improving health literacy with digital signage

Point patients in the right direction.

Let’s tackle health literacy once and for all and move our health care system forward. Let’s remove complex and hard-to-understand messaging in all forms of communication. Let’s use innovative technology such as digital signage in hospitals to consistently engage patients and employees at the point of care.

Tell people what they need to do and where to get help and watch them take action. When you are clear and direct you help people assimilate, absorb, and retain information. You are empowering them to them to change their thoughts and behaviors, ultimately increasing the trust between patient and provider.

Improve health literacy and optimize digital signage communications with these five strategies:

Use plain language to explain “how” to do things and “why” they should be done.

Breaking down barriers to communication can help prevent avoidable hospital readmissions. Patients who know and understand a physician’s instructions will feel empowered to act in their own best interest. Demonstrating how to properly take medication, explaining why not refilling a prescription can have severe consequences, and why following a physician’s discharge instructions is critical to recovery are examples of messaging that can help support physician communication.

Help alleviate anxiety and reduce confusion with universal symbols.

Easily recognized symbols included in patient education messaging can help increase understanding as people capture meanings at a glance. Combined with compassionate and supportive messaging, symbols can help calm anxious patients and caregivers.

Provide easy-to-remember numbers and web addresses so people can act upon information in real time.

Call-to-action information in large eye-catching fonts and visually appealing designs can grab attention and encourage people to make physician and screening appointments on their cell phones while they wait. Tell caregivers to get prescriptions filled at on-site pharmacies while their loved ones are being discharged and show them exactly where to go. Provide discounts and coupons for nutritious meals in the hospital cafeteria.

Reinforce “teach back” opportunities with clinical staff to elevate quality care.

Ensuring seamless communication is an important component of delivering quality care and “teach back” is a proven means of increasing patient understanding. Offering helpful tips, reminders, and support on monitors in nursing stations and employee break rooms can go a long ways to moving health literacy forward.

Clarify insurance terms and connect people to the right coverage.

Studies have shown that not understanding basic insurance terminology makes it difficult for people to select the right coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Help people become more “insurance literate” when you shed light on terms like premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance. As you expand the types of messages delivered, your community will see you as a more comprehensive health resource.

We can’t ignore each opportunity to establish thoughtful, effective communication with patients, employees, and the communities we serve. Our messages must encourage a flow of conversation that is seamless and time-efficient. Health literacy needs to be addressed on many levels and digital signage, at the point of care, is a platform that can go a long ways towards breaking down the walls of confusing medical jargon and ineffective communication.

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