We have been doing some work on health literacy lately, so we were really pleased to find a blog post that referenced a study we hadn’t found previously.  According to the study published in the Journal of Urology, the information on 95 percent of prostate cancer websites is over the heads of their readers. Of 62 websites surveyed, only three had treatment information written below a ninth grade reading level, the study said. Sites aimed for the reading level of a high school senior are far beyond the reading skills of many Americans.

But, the issue goes beyond websites and extends to the patient education and resources of EHRs at a time when meeting meaningful use criteria is top of mind for many CIOs.  Consider these findings of the AHRQ:

  • Patient education materials in EHRs are rarely written in way understandable and actionable for patients with basic or below basic health literacy (90M)
  • Too often they include long text and use of medical terms
  • Approximately 77M people with a poor understanding of basic medical vocabulary and health concepts — a population at greatest risk for poor outcomes and readmissions.
Also consider, that the AHRQ thinks this is a serious enough issue, that they are currently preparing for a patient education rating system for providers to use when evaluating EHR systems.