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4 Ways to Improve Patient Outcomes through Health Literacy in 2022

Doctor holding clipboard and pen talking to a patient

Health literacy doesn’t come naturally to patients, especially to those in medically underserved populations. In fact, close to 36% of adults have low health literacy. When healthcare consumers don’t understand their condition, they’re less likely to seek treatment and follow a care plan. This can have a detrimental impact on their health outcomes as a result.

In order to avoid this situation entirely, there are some options providers can take that work well when they are done on a consistent basis.

Use Simple Language

At all costs, avoid as much medical jargon as possible. It may not be possible to avoid some terms, but if they are used, try to explain those terms as simply as possible. There are plenty of patients with uncommon and hard-to-pronounce health issues, so basic terms from healthcare providers are always appreciated. Otherwise, it will go straight over a patient’s head.

From there, make sure the care plan has easy guidelines so that they are willing to follow through. The last thing a provider wants is for a patient to take medication incorrectly or ignore physical therapy, leading them straight back to their provider for avoidable treatment. Here are some approaches that will help providers improve healthcare consumer health literacy.

Consistent Communication

Imagine working on a project with someone and they rarely connect to see how your portion of the project is going. In healthcare, the scenario isn’t much different. Doctors seldomly check in with their patients because they don’t have time or their provider doesn’t automatically send messages to patients.

With most providers being short-staffed, the best option tends to be automatic messages, whether it’s via text, email or phone. This can all be done on a digital health platform and can be optimized using psychographic segmentation to reap more patient engagement. The more a provider communicates with the patient, the better equipped they are to care for themselves and stay knowledgeable on their health conditions.

Utilize Psychographic Segmentation

Believe it or not, not every healthcare consumer is eager to visit their doctor. But providers want to see all their patients thrive and stay healthy, so they need an option that motivates healthcare consumers to take action on health.

Psychographic segmentation does just that. The segmentation model, utilized by the consumer industry for decades, appeals to patient motivations based on their values, ideals and more so that they pursue their health goals. This is especially important when it comes to health literacy because patients will be more inclined to absorb the information if it pulls on their internal motivations. The way the message is communicated to each patient can go a long way to improving each person’s health.

Create Engagement Opportunities

One-on-one communication is great to engage with patients, but public options are also important. It gives a provider more opportunities to get their face in front of patients and potential patients. It also leads the healthcare consumer to view the provider as proactive about their engagement, which tends to be a good quality to have in healthcare.

Here are a few options to explore and utilize.

Social Media

An active presence on social media is a must, but there are a variety of ways it can be used. Twitter chats and Facebook/Instagram Live can be a great way to dive into specific topics in real-time. Account takeovers are also a great option, but with all of this, it’s important to understand HIPAA compliance and rules before posting.


Blogs are a great way to share information about provider news and health topics. They can be shared on social and anyone can subscribe to them via email, which is a great way to build an email list. Plus, blogs can make an immediate impact on your search engine optimization results as you add to them over time.


Podcasts are growing in popularity so much that 57% of Americans have listened to a podcast. And the topics are endless, making it easy for providers to start a podcast on their own or have a doctor or physician join as a guest on a credible podcast. Plus, providers can reach people from all over the world, growing the impact.

Not all of these options provide an immediate impact on improving health literacy. Some of them will take some time, months even. But these steps will build a strong foundation to improve patient health literacy and health outcomes.

For a better understanding of how psychographics can improve health outcomes, take a look at our case study.

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