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The Literacy Prescription: Enhancing Healthcare Outcomes | E7 - Amplified RN News Show

Carla Stanley MBA-HC, BSN, RN, FACHE, HCM-BC, NEA-BC, NE-BC, ANA\California Member, 2023 Advocacy Institute Fellow, and media-trained nurse, advocates for health literacy for underserved communities and one's ability to obtain, process, and understand healthcare-related content.


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Jared Fesler 0:17

Welcome to the Amplified RN News Show where we're turning up the volume of nursing news in California. Today, we're going to be diving into the topic of health literacy and how it can affect health outcomes. Today we're joined by ANA\California member and media-trained nurse Carla Stanley. Carla, thank you so much for joining us today. Would you please introduce yourself and tell everyone a little bit about why you're an expert on this topic?

Carla Stanley 0:39

Sure. Good afternoon, Jared. And thank you so very much, as well as ANA\C for having me. And as you said, my name is Carla Stanley. I have been a registered nurse for several decades now. And I'm also currently working on my DNP. So I'm a DNP student at UCSF. I am also board certified. And I have multiple board certifications in nursing, as well as in healthcare leadership. And I am in health, a health care expert. And so I wanted to talk about this topic that I'm seeing is ever increasing in our country. And as a nurse, we're positioned to be able to help.

Jared Fesler 1:22

Wonderful. Would you just tell everyone give us a great baseline of what health literacy is?

Carla Stanley 1:28

So Berkman et al in 2010 defined health literacy as an individual's capacity to obtain process and understand healthcare-related content. And so in a nutshell, again, the socio-economic status and outcomes for an individual, they really we start to see them deteriorate when they are not leveraged with health care literacy. So healthcare literacy can literally be seen as a bridge between the two, the socioeconomic status of the individual, and what their health looks like, and their outcomes look like. We'll all depend on how health literate they are.

Jared Fesler 2:10

So we've been seeing a lot of reports, especially during the pandemic about misinformation and disinformation. Obviously, health literacy is an aspect of ensuring that you have the right information in your hands. What is the breadth of the impact of this issue? Could you give us some clarification of scope?

Carla Stanley 2:30

Oh, absolutely. Over 80 million people in this country struggles with health care literacy. So we're not alone. Approximately 82% of individuals in this country have health literacy, that should concern all of us whether you're a health care, clinician or not. And literacy has been around for decades. You know, when we think literacy, we think illiteracy. And so for decades, it appeared to be the problem just of education. Well, there are more ways than an individual can struggle with literacy. And so that has morphed into health care literacy. And more and more people are having trouble making that leap.

Jared Fesler 3:19

Could you give us a story or example of how health literacy is negatively impacting individuals in the communities?

Carla Stanley 3:29

You know, Jared, I think we all have a story, I would venture to say you have a story. And I have so many to share. But absolutely, and this one is pretty hot off the press. On Mother's Day weekend. I live on the west coast on Mother's Day weekend at approximately 430 my time. And this individual called me and they live on the east coast. And it was approximately 6:30pm their time. Now the time is important. When I finished telling the story. When I answered the telephone, the individual said, she calls me sis, though we're not related. She says I haven't felt well since I woke up this morning and the top of my head hurts. Now I'm pretty fluid when I'm speaking but she was not. And as a nurse, I had the ability to quickly assess that she was experiencing a stroke.

Carla Stanley 4:28

So I said, I'm thinking okay, if you're able to call me maybe you're able to hang up, excuse me, and dial 911 So she wasn't able to do that. So I hung up the telephone and I immediately called her son. I told him time is of the essence his mother was having a stroke called 911 and get her to a hospital quickly. And so she spent Mother's Day in the hospital and she was diagnosed in fact with a stroke. But her outcome was good. She was left with minimal deficits, she will be on medication for the rest of her life to make sure she doesn't develop clots. But that was a positive outcome. My concern when it comes to health literacy is the fact that she had to call a nurse and another state for that information.

Jared Fesler 5:21

So what are you proposing that are solutions to this issue for general public for clinicians and healthcare leadership? What should they be working on next to address situations like this.

Carla Stanley 5:38

So it's a good thing, that there are nurses, right, because nurses are rated are well respected and by the community. So we can we can start with ensuring that organizations, companies businesses, that they hire a diverse workforce. And and that's not just because I want you to look like me or us to have the same skin tone, it's important because it ensures optimal communication, for the population that you're going to be caring for.

Carla Stanley 6:12

We need to create legislation, and that will be needed to minimize regulatory licensing, and practicing barriers to a nurse's ability to deliver care to people in all states, not just some states, especially those who are socio-economically disadvantaged.

Carla Stanley 6:31

We need to lever leverage artificial intelligence. So technology, but it is important to remember, every household does not have a cell phone. So we need to create tools to support the delivery of patient care, related to information and content in a way that your patient population will understand. So it's not what you want to develop or give them it is a true assessment of what your population looks like. And then making sure you're catering to those individuals. Because remember, communication is key. And the last thing, we need to create jobs, job descriptions, roles and positions for nurses, as paid health literacy and health navigator experts. And this is to support everything from communication, to compliance to outcomes, to improve our patient care, and this community. Because again, remember, in this country, we are spending approximately $3.7 trillion annually on our health care budget. And while our health care costs are going up, up up, our patient outcomes in this country are going down, down, down. So they're inversely proportional, that should not be happening in a developed rich country, such as the United States.

Jared Fesler 7:57

So you've outlined your four main points here in terms of sort of macro solutions that they can begin looking at Hope they already are, what are some of those action items that they can take away with today, to get started.

Carla Stanley 8:14

So be able to assess and evaluate your patient population. Again, it's not the same, from block to block, from city to city, from neighborhood to neighborhood. So really do a close assessment and look at who your patients are that that is key to their outcomes in the delivery of care. It's important to also create lists of available free community resources for patients to easily access to improve their health care. And I say make sure that they are the list has some free access health care items on it, so that patients feel comfortable going and it meets their needs. And we want to make sure that if they're struggling with socio economic problems, then we won't don't want to give them a list of you know, organizations or businesses. The first thing they'll ask for is, are you insured yes or no, and they don't receive care.

Carla Stanley 9:17

And another one is increased individual's health literacy, meaning patients can experience a better quality of life through you know, possibly living longer and creating their independence. So if we do just one of those things, if we, for example, create better flyers in our office, newsletters, business cards, appointment cards, if we just improve one thing, we're better off improving 1% once a year and making it better for health literacy than trying to tackle a huge item and try to make 100% change each year, because it will take longer, and the patient will suffer.

Jared Fesler 10:06

Carla, thank you so much for joining us so many great action items, tips and insights here. Such a topical discussion to be having, impacting our communities here in California, as well as across the nation and nurses do have are uniquely positioned here to help support this information, share those tools and resources and really take movement forward here on these policy issues as well. So Carla Stanley, thank you so much for your time. Look forward to have you back on the Amplified RN News Show again soon. Thank you.

Carla Stanley 10:38

Thank you.


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