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What's Your Health-Care IQ? Forum to Tackle Health Literacy Crisis

Health advocates say many patients miss doses because they misunderstand prescription information. (xandert/morguefile)
Health advocates say many patients miss doses because they misunderstand prescription information. (xandert/morguefile)
December 4, 2017

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- When it comes to living a healthy life, access to health care is critical, but understanding how to use it is every bit as important - which is why advocates are working to improve health literacy statewide.

Michelle Ganote, events and communication coordinator at the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative, said when it comes to prescription information, discharge instructions and appointment scheduling, even the most well-informed consumers still struggle to navigate the complexities of our current health care system.

“Ninety million Americans have problems understanding basic health care information, yet we're expecting them to engage in an increasingly complex health care system,” Ganote said. "And we also know that poor health is associated with limited health literacy."

The Collaborative is holding a community health forum on Tuesday in Louisville in conjunction with Health Literacy of Kentucky to talk about ways to improve health literacy and, as a result, overall health in Kentucky. More information is available at

Ganote said while the problem is widespread, the people with the lowest levels of health literacy tend to be the most vulnerable populations:

"Older adults, minorities, people that have less than a high school education or low income levels and people that have compromised health status,” she said. "And so we have to think about health equity because these factors really put people at risk for poorer health outcomes."

She added that the problem is also a costly one for both patients and providers. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that increasing health literacy could save more than $100 billion per year.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - KY