Approximately 80 million adults in the United States have low health literacy - an individual's ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information. Low health literacy creates difficulties in communicating with clinicians, poses barriers in managing chronic illness, lessens the likelihood of receiving preventive care, heightens the possibility of experiencing serious medication errors, increased risk of hospitalization, and results in poorer quality of life.
It is important for health care organizations to develop strategies that can improve their health literacy, yet organizations often find it difficult to determine exactly what it means to be health literate. How Can Health Care Organizations Become More Health Literate?: Workshop defines a health literate health care organization as "an organization that makes it easier for people to navigate, understand, and use information and services to take care of their health." In November 2011, the IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy held a workshop to discuss the growing recognition that health literacy depends not only on individual skills and abilities but also on the demands and complexities of the health care system. How Can Health Care Organizations Become More Health Literate?: Workshop summarizes the workshop.