What is Health Literacy?

Health literacy refers to a person’s understanding of their own health and can extended into how a patient will apply that information to make informed decisions to manage their health and wellbeing. It’s estimated that more than half of the Australian population has less than adequate health literacy.

Poor health literacy can affect a person’s ability to:

  • Navigate healthcare systems like filling out medical forms or sourcing appropriate healthcare providers and services
  • Share information like their personal medical history
  • Execute required self-care or chronic disease management
  • Appropriately understand associated risks when undergoing treatments
  • Understand medical instructions

Low health literacy can increase the risk of patient’s needing emergency care, or mismanaging their medications, disease or condition.

So, how do you improve your health literacy?

Luckily, improving your health literacy is fairly easy. We’ve have three simple ways you can ensure that you improve your health literacy.

  • Ask more questions. When you are having a consultation with your doctor and you don’t fully understand why you need the test that the doctor is ordering- speak up! If the instructions on your prescription label don’t make sense- tell your pharmacist. Not sure why you’re still not feeling better- the doctor has the answer. How tight is too tight when wrapping up your swollen ankle- the nurse can show you. Recently diagnosed with diabetes and can’t get the hang of the pricking you finger? Your diabetes educator can show you again. Asking questions is the simplest and best way to make sure you’re getting the right information.
  • Ask for written instructions and information. Every type of medical treatment and piece of medical equipment comes with in-depth instructions and information, ask for this whenever you are starting something new and read over it in your own time, make notes and ask questions next time you see your doctor.
  • Have someone with you. This is not always possible, but in a virtual consultation, you can have a family member with you during the consult. This person will be able to look at things from an outside view and might even be able to explain something to you in a personal way that helps you to understand things better. If you can’t have someone with you at the time of your consultation, talk to them about what happened in the appointment and try to teach them about your medication, disease or condition.

Doctors on Demand can help improve your health literacy by giving you answers to your questions and concerns. Our friendly doctors are available anytime, anywhere, from your mobile phone, laptop or computer. Just book an online consultation to speak with an Australian registered doctor. Don’t wait until it’s too late, speak with a doctor from the comfort of your own home and ask the questions you need the answers to, visit www.doctorondemand.com.au today.

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