• 10 May

    Blog: Health Literacy and Accessible Digital Health Information

    Posted by
    Sarah Greening

    Health Literacy and Accessible Digital Health Information event – 2 May 2018 (Manchester) #accessibleinfo

    It was standing room only at our Health Literacy and Accessible Digital Health Information event on 2 May 2018.   We are very grateful to Texthelp for all their support with the event.  It is through partnerships such as these that PIF is able to provide free events on these important subjects.

    The event was very well attended and a packed agenda provided lots of social media activity, and meant it was not the first time that one of our events trended on Twitter!

    Trended on Twitter

    The event was chaired by Jason Gordon – UK Health Manager, Texthelp who did a great job of keeping the day on track, particularly given the wide-ranging discussions and perspectives from the audience.

    Jason Gordon

    Kicking off the morning theme of Accessible Digital Health Information was the wonderful Adi Latif – Usability and Accessibility Consultant, AbilityNet.  Adi gave his personal perspective as a blind person accessing healthcare.  Adi educated attendees through laughter and fun, and some very practical ways that we can all help people who are visually impaired.

    “’Communicating with your patients in the right way can empower them, and everyone who works in healthcare has the power to empower’ Adi Latif @AbilityNet #accessibleinfo@EmilyHHurt on Twitter.

    Adi explained that digital technology has provided a wealth of opportunities for the blind community, with apps and screen readers empowering Adi to do things which previously would not have been possible – like navigating on a car journey. Yet receiving a doctor’s letter forces Adi back into the dark, as he needs to rely on someone to read it to him.

    Adi is calling for greater adoption by the NHS of readily available digital technology – like screen readers – to empower everyone with disabilities to independently take control of their health.

    Adi Latif

    The Chair for the day, Jason Gordon, then explored how assistive technology can break down barriers online and in the workplace; helping to create inclusive organisations and accessible patient information, overcome language barriers and empowering staff to communicate clearly with those seldom heard.

    Jason highlighted Browsealoud and Read&Write which can empower patients to manage their healthcare.

    “Great to hear about Browsealoud from @TexthelpWork today at the Health Literacy event, it’s going to help make our website much more accessible! #accessibleinfo @TheBrainCharity on Twitter.

    PIF’s very own Project and Partnership Manager, Sophie Randall, was up next presenting on PIF’s recent joint project with the Community Health and Learning Foundation, on the development of a framework to embed health literacy into shared decision making.

    Sophie explained there is very little literature currently available on health-literate decision aids. The consensus appears to be that more research is needed.  Where these exist the barriers to their creation and use are:

     • resources (seen as an add-on rather than core patient information)
     • organisational resistance/buy-in to ‘dumbing down’ of resources
     • the complexity of some of the decisions that need to be made.
    Sophie is still keen to hear from people who are working on, or have produced health-literate decision support resources, so their practical experience can be reflected in the framework. Contact sophie.randall@pifonline.org.uk

    Sophie Randall

    Abigail Howse – Quality and Evaluation Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support provided attendees with a very practical presentation on producing Easy Read and British Sign Language resources. Abi highlighted Macmillan Cancer Support’s significant collection of resources in other languages and formats to meet the accessibility needs of different people.

    “EasyRead uses simple language and pictures to explain information, used as a tool to support discussion. Useful for many people, not just those with learning difficulties #accessibleinfo @LeicPatientLib on Twitter.

    Abigail Howse

    Providing an alternative perspective, Harjit K Bansal – Equality & Diversity Manager, North East London NHS Foundation Trust explained how improving the accessible needs of staff, not just patients, benefits everyone.

    The Trust’s 6500 workforce is a highly diverse group, and Harjit highlighted the work undertaken by the Trust’s Staff Disability Network and Dyslexia Staff Forums to identify staff challenges and barriers, and how digital technology – including Texthelp’s Read&Write literacy software – now plays a crucial role in delivering the support staff need.

    Harjit Bansal

    After lunch, it was time for the afternoon theme of Health Literacy.  Prof Jo Protheroe – Professor of General Practice, Chair of Health Literacy UK Group, NHS Clinical Adviser for Health Literacy commenced the afternoon by asking the question ‘Why is health literacy important and how will improvement benefit the NHS and Society?’

    “‘We name hospital departments for the people who work in them, not the people who use them’ Prof Joanne Protheroe @LiteracyHealth #accessibleinfo @PiFonline #healthliteracy @RuthCarlyle on Twitter.

    Prof Protheroe explained the meaning and context of health literacy, why health literacy is important, how big the problem is and what can be done about it.

    Drawing on practical examples from Stoke-on-Trent public health, Joanne outlined the challenges that millions of patients face in accessing and understanding relevant information to make informed decisions about their own health. Health literacy is about so much more than just making printed leaflets easier to read, Jo stressed. It touches every aspect of the patient experience, from websites to hospital signage and the built environment.

    Jo explored the cost of low health literacy on the NHS, estimating that it accounts for 3 to 5% of the total healthcare cost per annum (Source: 1. Eichler K et al, 2009) In the UK these costs in 2017-18 equate to £3.7 billion to £6.2 billion (source HLS-EU Consortium, 2012). By taking practical – and often simple – steps to improve health literacy we can empower more people to self-manage their health and in doing so improve patient outcomes – whilst saving the NHS potentially millions.

    Jo Protheroe

    Jonathan Berry – Personalisation & Control Specialist; Lead for Health Literacy and Shared Decision Making, NHS England presentation followed.

    Jonathan highlighted the links between health inequalities and the digital world. Lower levels of health literacy are much more common among the socially and economically disadvantaged, also people with poor education, older people, and those affected by long term health conditions, sensory impairments or disabilities.

    Jonathan shared some real-life examples of poor health literacy – from a patient spraying an asthma inhaler on her neck rather than down her throat, to a lack of understanding of the links between food and diabetes control. To demonstrate, his presentation included an interactive audience session to show how disempowering poor literacy can be.

    “61% don’t understand the information given to them – so health literacy it’s not a minority matter, it’s a majority matter. From Jonathan Berry @NHSEngland #accessibleinfo @TH_ClaireMcG on Twitter.

    Jonathan Berry

    Prof Gillian Rowlands – Professor of General Practice, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University continued the literacy theme, outlining the possibilities emerging from advances in digital health to promote greater self-care, promote better health and help prevent illness. She believes the internet presents huge untapped potential for the public to access reliable health information, medical treatments and illness.

    However, Gill went on to highlight, there are considerable social inequalities when it comes to internet use. The people who have the greatest dependency on the health service also tend to have lower digital skills with little or often no experience of using the internet. Steps are being taken through NHS Digital’s Pathfinder programme to redress this balance and open up the benefits of digital health information to all.

    Gill Rowlands

    “Learning all the time at the @TexthelpWork and @PiFonline health literacy and accessible digital information event in Manchester today. #accessibleinfo @TH_AidanKelly on Twitter.

    Dr Ruth Carlyle – Head of NHS Library and Knowledge Services, Midlands and East of England, ‎Health Education England, then followed by introducing the Health Literacy Toolkit.

    The toolkit was produced in collaboration by the Community Health and Learning Foundation, NHS England, Public Health England and Health Education England.

    It is a free resource published on the Health Education England website https://hee.nhs.uk/our-work/health-literacy

    The toolkit includes:

    • A “how to” guide;
    • Business case;
    • Workshop lesson plan; and
    • Case studies.

    The content relates to communication in all formats.

    Ruth Carlyle

    @RuthCarlyle takes us through the #HealthLiteracy Toolkit including business case with links to policies that you can use to ask for resources/ funding. Also training activities and impact case studies #accessibleinfo @NHS_HealthEdEng @PHE_uk @Hee hee.nhs.uk/our-work/healt… @LeicPatientLib on Twitter.

    The last presentation of the day was given by Bernadette Flood – Pharmacist, Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services Dublin who explored how understanding medication, and making decisions to consent to medication, requires access to easy to understand information from the doctor, pharmacist or formal or informal support personnel.

    Bernadette highlighted that this is a growing problem area for social care providers, according to a recent CQC inspection report.

    Bernadette Flood

    The full agenda for the day, and link to the presentations, can be found here and you can join the conversation on Twitter @PiFonline  #accessibleinfo.

    “Useful and informative conference today. I’ll be sharing the learning and information to support equality in Stockport. #accessibleinfo @PiFonline @TexthelpWork @parkrunmiranda on Twitter.

    If you missed this event, you might be interested in future PIF events taking place later this year on a variety of themes including Digital Health Information and the Perfect Patient Information Journey.  You can find out more about our events here: https://www.pifonline.org.uk/pif/



    Posted on Thursday, 10th May 2018