Community outreach encourages healthy behaviors, including preventative appointments and better nutrition, through personal connections with members about health education.
Community health education initiatives positively improve health literacy - one's ability to understand and make well-informed health decisions. Since wellbeing does not stop outside the doctor's office, knowledge of improving one's health is crucial.
Many people struggle with health literacy; they are unfamiliar with medical phrasing, confused about diagnoses, and uncertain about post-discharge care.
The consequences of health illiteracy are vast.
It is challenging to understand vital information such as necessary prescriptions and appointments when one has poor health literacy. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) found that only 12% of adults had proficient health literacy skills. 80 million U.S. adults have limited health literacy - a statistic directly tied to increased hospitalizations and lower rates of preventative care such as mammograms or flu shots(1).
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services acknowledges the need for improved health literacy as a pressing issue and has created the "National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy" to tackle this.
The National Action Plan is a multi-sector effort involving organizations, policymakers, and communities to develop accessible health information in early and adult education. The plan aims to ensure accessibility of health information for better patient decision-making and that health systems package content in easily understandable formats(2).
Technology is a crucial route to further community outreach and improve health literacy.
A Journal of Medical Internet Research study compared smartphone use and health literacy markers such as confidence in getting needed medical information. Through surveys distributed to predominantly historically underserved communities, the study found a strong correlation between owning a smartphone and health literacy, "suggesting that the use of smartphone technology may play a role in increasing health care access."(3)
Tell Health allows community health providers that patients know and trust to share important health information on a user-friendly public posting interface similar to a social media app. The feature serves as a community outreach platform, where verified physicians build upon established trust by sharing educational content, such as prenatal care advice, to their patients and followers. Additionally, the Tell Health social healthcare platform is not language-specific - providing access to individuals with limited English proficiency. The platform is also expanding personalized care to rural patients and increasing information channels for those living with rare diseases with updates from leading specialists.