tions become a series of objectives and measures. A notice of proposed rulemaking was issued in January 2010.2

Health literacy is important to each of the five outcome priorities established by the health IT policy committee. These outcome priorities are to

  1. improve quality, safety, efficiency and reduce health disparities;

  2. engage patients and families in their health care;

  3. improve care coordination;

  4. improve population and public health; and

  5. ensure adequate privacy and security protections for personal health information.

It is clear that health literacy is relevant to the first priority, which specifically aims at reducing health disparities. But health literacy is also relevant to thinking about how health information is used to reach the goals of engaging patients and families, improving care coordination, and improving population and public health. Public hearings are being held on these priorities. The first public hearing, on patient and family engagement, was held in April in Washington, DC. HHS is accepting public testimony at the hearings, but there is also a Federal Advisory Committee blog3 for input from the public. All comments become part of the public record.

A series of themes has emerged from the first hearing and the blog. Each has implications for creating information for patients that truly addresses their health literacy needs. The following are the list of themes:

  • Provide real-time patient access to data

  • Incorporate patient-generated data into EHR

  • Encourage innovation

    • Connect home and community to care delivery settings

    • Consider a bold initiative (e.g., 50 percent of care rendered at home)

  • Create sense of community among patients and with health team

    • Achieve 4 Es: engage, educate, empower, and enable

    • Meet needs of diverse population

  • Focus more on patient outcomes measures versus traditional process measures

  • Engage with the public about meaningful use

    • Consider reorienting meaningful use criteria to what is meaningful to patients

2

Final rules were issued in July and can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/07/20100713a.html.

3

See http://healthit.hhs.gov/blog/faca/.



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