Health literacy is the degree to which a person can obtain, understand and process necessary healthcare information and services which are needed by healthcare professionals to make appropriate healthcare decisions. Health literacy addresses the literacy aspect of an individual as well as their overall health status. Poor literacy leads to poor communication quality with healthcare organization making healthcare professional deliver poor quality services to clients and not satisfying their needs (Azar, 2011). Effective communication in healthcare is defined as the exchange of meaningful information related to health services which creates a connection between several patients and healthcare professional from different healthcare institutions. Low literacy is universal among healthcare professionals and other people across the globe. It is mostly experienced in developing countries; developed countries gave the low rate of health illiteracy (Biasio, Carducci, Fara, Giammanco & Lopalco, 2018). Literacy is very essential in healthcare, and it reflects the relationship between health and literacy.
Education plays a preeminent role when it comes to addressing the health of an individual. It also plays a role in enhancing the literacy of healthcare professionals which handles significant inequalities of health because it indirectly shows an individual's ability to make health care decision. Healthcare professionals with low literacy face a lot of challenges as they try to understand information which is related to healthcare matters like giving the correct medical prescriptions to a patient based on the kind of infection which they are suffering from (Chinn, 2017). They are also not able of providing the right instructions and recommendations to a patient regarding a specific illness such as diet and the type of exercise to engage in. Healthcare illiteracy makes it hard for healthcare professionals to be able to read, understand and interpret available healthcare information which has profoundly contributed to disparities in healthcare sectors (Whitley, Smith, Vaillancourt & Neufeld, 2018). Professionals with poor literacy misuse preventive measures like taking vaccination and they never bother to take screening tests like for patients who have cancer. A large percentage of individuals who are suffering from chronic diseases have limited literacy levels.
For a healthcare institution to ensure that there are effective literacy and communication in the organization it has to implement some strategies which enable healthcare professionals to be able to apply literacy and communication effectively to ensure that they offer high-quality health care services to patients which are capable of satisfying their needs. Consumer checkbook strategy which was implemented by Krughoff in his presentation (Brooks, Ballinger, Nutbeam & Adams, 2017). This strategy helps consumers or patients to be able to select the appropriate health plan which suits their need. Consumer checkbook has a health comparison tool which can be adapted in insurance companies to protect patients' rights (Whitley et al., 2018). This tool makes it easy for patients to be in a position to select health policies which best meets their requirements. Healthcare professionals are advised to guide patients to make the right decision which will have no harm to their health condition. Healthcare professionals who lack literacy and effective communication are not able to advise a patient ends up making the wrong decision which can be harmful to their health. With the use of consumer checkbook, a patient is also able to compare health care institutions based on the quality of the healthcare services they offer to patients and the cost they charge (Biasio et al., 2018). Plan standardization is another strategy which can be used by healthcare professionals and patients to compare premiums within a specific benefit package.
Awareness in health literacy should be used to ensure that patients know their rights and the kind of treatment and medication which they should receive from hospitals and that healthcare professionals are enforced to apply adequate health literacy when they are attending patients. Healthcare professionals should use effective communication when they are trying to gather some information from patients been polite so that our patients do not feel intimidated and they can give the right health information. Healthcare literacy and effective communication have critical roles which they play in the society (Brooks et al., 2017). Despite the profession and education level of a professional health worker, they should understand they cannot escalate their interaction skills because without them they cannot be able to carry out their daily tasks effectively because they have to interact with patients suffering from different infections on a regular basis.
Importance of health literacy and effective communication
Healthcare systems across the globe utilize the use of health literacy and effective communication to enhance the quality of services which they offer to patients. They use the latest developed information and communication technologies to bring a change in the social-economic aspect of health and education systems. In the era, we live today the consequence of media and communication is significantly increasing. Healthcare professionals need to have adequate health literacy. Healthcare literacy is essential for successful access of healthcare services and the use of the services, self-care in which the patients or the healthcare professionals are in a position to make health care decisions which can be applied for health wellness of individuals (Nouri & Rudd, 2015). Health literacy is required in all dimensions of the healthcare system in the management of the organization by understanding the skills and expertise which are needed to attend different infections and the kind of treatment and medication which should be provided to a patient. Healthcare institutions need a large number of healthcare professionals with adequate healthcare literacy to be able to perform complex healthcare task such as using a table to calculate the employees share and health insurance costs (Hersh, Salzman & Snyderman, 2015). Health literacy is very essential when it comes to handling older adults and patients with chronic illness because they are at high risk and they require a lot of attention which involves complex skills. Health literacy enables healthcare professionals to predict an individual health status based on their progress with medication and treatment. Low health literacy is associated with negative impacts on a patient's health condition as well as healthcare systems (Lundgren & McMakin, 2018). Patients with inadequate health literacy cannot make significant decisions based on their health condition. They are also not capable of following instructions given to them by healthcare professionals on their medication and treatments.
The language barrier is termed as the most cause of health problems in many hospitals. This is a situation where the nurse and patient cannot communicate effectively making it hard for healthcare professionals acquire necessary information from the patient regarding their health which can lead to wrong medication and treatment administered to them which can be harmful to their health. Therefore, healthcare systems across the globe are utilizing the effective communication to improve the quality of services which they offer to patients (Lambert & Keogh, 2014). Effective communication is required in all nursing interventions. Therefore, effective communication is termed as a fundamental tool in healthcare delivery. Listening to other people is the most caring act that someone can do because it indicates that respect the opinion of the others. Effective communication between a nurse and a patient is a conscious goal-directed process that differs from casual or social interactions. It means that both the patient and a healthcare professional understands essential health messages. With sufficient communication, nurses are able to identify the patient's problem mutually, work with the patient to solve the problem and the patient finally accepts new goals which are put to be able to resolve their health problems. After the basis of the information are understood it is essential that healthcare professionals examine the actions and decisions which they make through reflection (Lambert & Keogh, 2014). Improved healthcare literacy and effective communication are very critical to each healthcare institution, and they contribute to more informed choices and improvement in the quality of healthcare services administered to patients. Social media such as TVs and radios have also significantly contributed to a more educated society in which people can get informed on what is happening in the health sector, and they are also made aware of disease outbreaks (Nouri & Rudd, 2015). Through social media, individuals are even educated on the kind of diet to take which are beneficial to their health and the measure which they can put in place to prevent the spread of infections.
Discuss how health literacy and effective communication influence culturally safe practice
For healthcare professionals to be able to work effectively in a cross-cultural context it is significant for them to define the description of culture in their context and identify how those cultural practices shape their work. A culturally competent method is based on shared and establishment of significant relationships of trust in which our patients feel free to share their health problems with healthcare professionals. Effective nursing practices of an individual are based on the cultural environment which they come from (Allen, Auld, Logan, Montes & Rosen, 2017). Culture is not restricted by age, gender, social-economic status or origin experiences. For healthcare professionals to be able to deliver effective nursing services they have to undertake a process of reflection on their own cultural identity and identify the effects of their cultural practices to their profession. Unsafe cultural practices comprise any action which diminishes and demeans cultural identity and the wellbeing of individuals (Finn & O’Fallon, 2017). The Australian health practitioner regulation agency supports health institutions in the country and a code of ethics among all the healthcare professionals which include nursing and midwifery. Cultural safety is defined as an environment which is safe and can allow people in the society to be able to carry out their activities effectively (Holland, 2017). Every organization should develop cultural awareness in which people respect each other.
Cultural awareness involves developing knowledge and understanding of the cultural differences between different communities and coming with a solution in which people are urged to respect the opinions of others. Cultural competence implies both actions and accountability (Chinn, 2017). Cultural competence is characterized by the quality of healthcare services that patients receive from healthcare professionals. Cultural competence education enables students to develop skills in the cultural reflexivity and self-analysis to be able to understand how their culture contributes towards their profession. Students are also in a position to understand and accommodate the diversity of cultural practices from other communities.
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