A couple of months ago, some of us at the Health Care Foundation and a few community partners were racking our brains to come up with a good title for a health literacy conference that we’ll offer Feb. 12. We knew a really good title would do more than announce the conference focus; it would also entice the intended audience to sign up and attend. But finding that name wasn’t easy.
Part of the reason is that the term health literacy doesn’t begin to convey what’s really at stake. The ability to engage people as effective partners in caring for their minds and bodies is what health literacy is actually about, and it’s integral to good health and high quality health care. That’s why the Affordable Care Act includes requirements that focus on patient engagement — because the best care in the world is easily undone by poorly informed, unmotivated and/or under capacitated patients. Sadly, it happens every day.
Health Forward is committed to health literacy, defined by the Institute of Medicine as, “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”
So, the title we ultimately chose is “Health Literacy: A Path to Patient Engagement.” The conference will feature a keynote address from Ruth Parker, MD, of Emory University’s Med School.
Dr. Parker’s primary research interests and activities have been in the area of medical education and health services of underserved populations. A nationally recognized expert on this topic, she has authored numerous papers on health literacy. She co-edited the complete bibliography of medicine on health literacy for the National Library of Medicine and she co-authored the definition of health literacy quoted above.
Dr. Parker’s remarks will be bookended by panel presentations moderated by Nick Haines, Executive Producer for News & Public Affairs at Kansas City Public Television, and Michael Weaver, MD, an Emergency Medicine Specialist at Saint Luke’s Hospital.
We hope that we’ll have a full house at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center on Feb. 12, and that we’ll have many hospitals, clinics and support service organizations interested in the health literacy funding and technical assistance opportunities that we’ll announce that day. Health Forward and our partners are doing our best to ensure that the conference and the funding initiative to follow lives up to the title we chose.
Please register early for the conference, as available seating is limited.