To help provide health information that is easy to understand, Health Net is celebrating National Health Literacy Month for the eighth year in a row.
Making the language of healthcare easy to understand is an important part of what we do. It’s about connecting our members – regardless of their heritage or background – to the right doctor at the right time and helping them efficiently utilize their benefits.
Why do we celebrate it?
We use this month to share the reasons why it’s important to develop health information that’s easy to understand. We also provide our employees with tips, resources and tools they can use to improve communication with our members. The bottom line is, easy-to-understand materials and clear verbal communication help to improve the quality of service we provide and the health of our members.
The people behind “health literacy” at Health Net
We have a department called Cultural and Linguistic Services (“C&L”). This team is devoted to maintaining and improving Health Net as a culturally competent plan. This means that we work together when creating our written, video and external materials that are sent or spoken to our members. Some of the ways we do this include:
- Removing cultural and language barriers for our members. This means providing information in the language each person is most comfortable reading or speaking, and paying close attention to things that have special meaning within a culture.
- Meeting and/or exceeding compliance with oversight and regulatory requirements. This helps us follow all government, state and legal rules and guidelines in order to perform as a successful company.
- Promoting cultural responsiveness by Health Net. We provide our employees awareness, training, and education not only in the C&L department, but also across the company.
- Becoming diversity champions and agents for change. This means we strive to make sure our diverse group of members is served in a way that helps them understand and use their benefits.
Making improvements for our members
Health literacy efforts don’t happen only in October. Here are a few examples of what we’re doing to be champions of health literacy year ‘round:
- The Clear Communication Program: This is aimed at all California healthcare providers and members, both on and off the Affordable Care Act Exchange (such as people who are Health Net members as part of an employer-provided health plan). This project is our way of addressing health literacy by improving communication between patients and healthcare providers to improve the health outcomes of our members.
A great product from this program is the “Ask Me 3” brochure, written in English and Spanish. The brochure states the three questions that patients should ask their doctors each time they meet. Along with the Ask Me 3 brochure, our Clear Communication Toolkit also has a member handout that explains complicated healthcare terms in plain language. And, there’s a guide for healthcare providers and their staff about how to address health literacy, using tools such as the Ask Me 3 brochure.
- Motivational Interviewing: Since 2015, our C&L department has hosted workshops for the Transitional Case Management Team. This team works with patients with severe or long-term illnesses who are transitioning from being in a facility, such as a hospital, to taking care of themselves at home. The following learning segments help the team members do their jobs more effectively and with better results for their patients:
- Empathic Responding: Basic Building Blocks of Patient-Centered Care;
- Motivational Interviewing: Empowering Patients in Behavior Change;
- Providing Care in a Culturally Responsive Context;
- Decreasing Cynicism and Burnout.
- Empathy and Reflective Listening Project: This project trains Health Net Call Center employees to develop their empathy (understanding the feelings of another person) and reflective (thoughtful) listening skills. The result is an improved member experience and better results for our members who call us for help.
- Easy-to-read printed materials: The Health Net C&L department works to see that all member materials they review are easy to read and understand. C&L provides training, resources and software to help our employees create easy-to-read-and-understand materials.
- Readability Studio (RS) software: This software assesses the reading grade level of English content used in member-facing materials. The program uses popular English readability formulas to generate the grade-level score of content, and shows employees where they may need to rewrite something so it’s easier to understand.
We’re glad you’ve taken time to read about our efforts to make healthcare information understandable to everyone. The theme for Health Literacy Month is “Be a Health Literacy Hero,” and we’ll continue working hard to make sure we can communicate clearly and be a hero to our members.