What Health Literacy can Contribute to Smart Healthcare

The Asia Health Literacy Association (AHLA) Country Office, based at the UP Manila College of Public Health organized its first public lecture on health literacy on 29 November 2018 entitled,  “What health literacy can contribute to smart healthcare.”   The  lecture was given by Dr. Peter WS Chang, Secretary General and  President-elect of AHLA, at the CPH Auditorium.

It was attended by faculty, staff, and students coming from within and outside UP Manila.  Represented during the event were academic institutions, such as  Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health and Manila Central University,  drug company (MSD Philippines), government agencies (DOH, DOST-PCHRD), and Taipei Representative Office in the Philippines.

Dr. Chang started the lecture by defining the concept of health literacy – an individual’s skill to access, understand, appraise, and apply health information and services in a way that enhances health. He then talked about the critical role of health literacy in patient outcomes,  health care costs, and the like. He presented data showing that patients with low health literacy are more likely to use emergency room services, have longer hospital stays, are less likely to follow treatment plans, and have  higher mortality rates. He highlighted the role of health care providers in improving patient health literacy and the benefits of patient engagement, which includes improved health outcomes. The  last part of his talk was about what  health care providers  can do to improve population health literacy.  The 5 STEPS  to better health literacy were useful tips for health care providers: speak slowly, teach-back, encourage questions, plain language, and show examples.

Before the lecture proper, the audience listened to messages given by CPH’s adjunct faculty and former DOH secretary, Paulyn Jeanne Ubial, and DOH’s OIC of the Health Promotion and Communication service, Dr. Faith Alberto.  Both speakers talked about the efforts of DOH  related to health literacy and expressed enthusiasm for the completion of the first National Health Literacy Survey that is currently being implemented by a group of  CPH faculty.