• Design Brief

    Well-being, Industrial Design

    My mission is to prevent patients with limited health literacy from misreading medical information by providing easy-to-understand healthcare material.

    Key findings

    What is the health literacy?

    Health literacy is the ability to obtain, understand, and effectively use health-related information. 90 million adults may lack the needed literacy skills to effectively use the U.S. health care system. Approximately 36 percent of New York City adults would not be able to identify the name of a hospital in a short article; an additional 27 percent would not be able to fill out a standard health insurance form.

    What are the consequences of low literacy?

    Patients with limited health literacy are more likely to have troubles with health care including: Lack of knowledge of basic self-care Lack of awareness of preventive health measures Inability to read the labels of prescription and over-the-counter medications Misunderstanding of medical information (informed consent, patient history, and health insurance applications appointment slips etc) Uncertainty over how to use the health care system effectively Higher rate of using emergency rooms and experiencing longer hospital stays Lower levels of overall patient satisfaction

    Target audience

    Who are the people affected by the problem I am addressing?

    >Adults over the age of 65 have more limited literacy proficiency than younger, working adults. >Individuals without a high school diploma or GED have lower levels of literacy proficiency than those with a high school diploma or education beyond high school. >Immigrants (mostly Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic) from non-English speaking nations or non-industrialized areas have more likely to have limited literacy. >Low-income and homeless individuals.

    English as a primary language?

    Many individuals receiving care from the U.S health-care system have limited English proficiency. The 2000 census indicates that the foreign-born population in the United States is 31 million. More than 300 different languages are spoken in the United States, and 47 million citizens and non-citizens speak a language other than English at home. English is not the primary language spoken in the homes of 41 percent of Hispanics, 34 percent of Koreans, 29 percent of Vietnamese, and 20 percent of Chinese.

    About 90 million adults have literacy skills that test below high school level (NALS Levels 1 and 2). Of these, about 40- 44 million (NALS Level 1) have difficulty finding information in unfamiliar or complex texts such as newspaper articles, medical labels, forms or charts.

    • The National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) is a comprehensive study of adult literacy conducted by the Educational Testing Service of the U.S. Department of Education. The study measured the English literacy skills of a random sample of over 26,000 individuals in the United States aged 16 years and older.

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