Per Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States and current President of Canyon Ranch Institute, “Health is an issue of equity and fairness. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to live a healthy life, and improving the health literacy of everyone is a proven path toward that goal.”
Last week, both health equity and health literacy were at the forefront in the Fifth Annual Health Literacy Missouri Summit and the Second Kansas Health Literacy Summit held Oct. 23 and 24 at the President’s Hotel in Kansas City, sponsored by the Health Forward Foundation and attended by approximately 160 individuals from Kansas, Missouri and states outside.
Health Literacy Kansas was formed in 2011 and hosted its first Kansas Health Literacy Summit in 2012. The organization, a coalition of representatives from various Kansas organizations and businesses, has as our mission “to effectively communicate health information to promote optimal health and reduce costs.”
When Health Literacy Kansas had a chance this year to collaborate with Health Literacy Missouri and the Health Forward Foundation for a bi-state health literacy summit in Kansas City, we welcomed the opportunity.
Together, we were able to provide our participants with local and national speakers who addressed barriers to health as well as opportunities to improve health outcomes for our citizens. Some of the information shared included:
- With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance literacy has become a need for many newly insureds.
- The United States has the highest health costs with the lowest health outcomes within developed countries.
- A consumer shared many barriers and frustrations he encountered while trying to navigate the health care system as he worked to manage his illness.
- Rather than focusing on individuals with low health literacy and poor health outcomes, we should be focusing on individuals who have low health literacy but still have good outcomes, and on those who have higher levels of literacy but poor outcomes, in an effort to better understand what factors impact these health situations.
- Health literacy is about communication. You should always keep the audience in mind when designing both written and oral communication products.
These were merely a few of the topics shared by panelists and presenters alike. In addition, we received highlights of various health literacy projects currently underway in Kansas City.