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MU Center Offers Country's First Certified Health Literacy Training

Course will teach health providers to improve communication
with patients and families

The University of Missouri Center for Health Policy is participating in a national push to improve health literacy and reduce health care costs by offering the country's first board-certified health literacy quality improvement training for health care providers.

Karen Edison

"The ability to understand health information is the number one indicator of positive health outcomes because so much of health care is about what we read and understand," said Karen Edison, MD, Center for Health Policy director and co-founder of the training program. "One-third of all Americans have trouble reading, and nine out of 10 struggle with understanding health information at some time. It's easy to see how filling out a form or following medication directions could be challenging for many patients."

The Health Quality Improvement Module from the MU Center for Health Policy gives health care providers and their hospitals the tools and personalized coaching to enhance their communication with patients, family members and caregivers.

"If patients understand what their health issues are, what their medications are and how to take them, there are better health outcomes and fewer unscheduled visits to the physician's office, fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits," said David Fleming, MD, chair of the MU Department of Internal Medicine and director of the MU Center for Health Ethics. "Improving health literacy has a huge impact on quality of care, patient satisfaction and reducing health care costs."

Fleming, who also serves as the president-elect of the American College of Physicians, helped develop the course, which has been approved by the American Board of Family Medicine, the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Pediatrics.

The course meets three key goals outlined in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy:

  • It promotes changes in the health care system that improve health information, communication, informed decision making and access to health services.
  • It trains providers in effective, evidence-based health literacy practices.
  • It prrovides guidance and support to establish patient-centered communication policies.

Qualifying physicians will be able to take part in a free Health Literacy Quality Improvement Module at the Penn Medicine Clinical Simulation Center in Philadelphia on July 25. Physicians interested in registering for a future workshop should visit

The Center for Health Policy was established by the University of Missouri in 2002 to foster dialogue and analysis of health policy issues important to the welfare of Missouri citizens.

Click here to download a high resolution portrait of Edison.

MU Health Magazine


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