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The care navigation, virtual care, and health literacy connection

Unlocking better health
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It’s not new news, the pandemic propelled the uptake of telemedicine. Now, with favorable consumer perception and investment in the space, it’s reshaped how members expect care access and delivery. Beyond providing increased convenience and accessibility, virtual care, complemented by healthcare navigation, is evolving into a powerful tool for elevating health literacy. 

What is health literacy

Health literacy is the ability to not only understand, but use, and apply health-related information effectively to make informed decisions and manage one’s own health.

When you consider that individuals with limited health literacy tend to face, on average, higher medical expenses for office visits and prescription medications than those who possess strong health literacy skills, it becomes evident that integrating health literacy into all areas of operation is the cornerstone for improving member health.

The combination of virtual care and care navigation is instrumental in enhancing health literacy, therefore increasing health equity and trust, and ultimately unlocking better health outcomes for your workforce.

Virtual care and care navigation for employers

The question:
What’s the benefit of using an integrated health literate care model?

The answer: 
A member equipped with the tools and care coordinators to support their health literacy is empowered to self-manage their health, therefore leading to improved health outcomes and cost savings.
For employers, this means building an effective strategy and collaborating with the right partner to deliver a comprehensive, personalized, and integrated healthcare experience. When members are equipped with an understanding of their health conditions, access points for healthcare services, preventative measures, comprehensive insights into their benefits, and the ability to decipher claims, it leads to a reduction in costs, an enhancement of the member experience, improved clinical outcomes, and an increase in health equity. 

Screenshot of app

Unlocking better healthcare for members

At Included Health, we provide a seamless blend of care delivery and expert healthcare navigation services. We believe that the future of healthcare is comprehensive and convenient, offering members access to high-quality care and expertise, whether it’s delivered in-person or virtually. 

Our mission is to raise the standard of healthcare for everyone. And as we advance that mission, we’ve outlined four strategies to enhance health literacy and unlock better healthcare for your members through the power of virtual care and benefit navigation.

1. The impact of simple information and accessible services

Half of the adult population in the United States lacks a solid understanding of basic health insurance terms and struggles to effectively utilize their health insurance for necessary healthcare services. This poses a unique challenge when it comes to navigating the intricacies of the healthcare system. This challenge is even more pronounced among low-income households, marginalized communities, and historically underserved racial and ethnic populations. Providing accurate information in plain, straightforward language empowers members to make well-informed choices about their health, which has the potential to result in improved outcomes, and reduced healthcare costs. 

One immediate step to address this issue is to create communications scored at reading levels that everyone can understand, no matter their education or cultural background. By providing uncomplicated language and clear explanations, healthcare information becomes more accessible to a wider audience, including those with limited reading skills or language barriers. The goal is to eliminate complex medical jargon in favor of simpler concepts. For example, replacing “renal” with “kidney” or using “stop smoking” instead of “smoking cessation.” These seemingly minor adjustments play a significant role in promoting health equity, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their reading proficiency, has equal access to essential health information and resources. 

Together, accurate and simple information, along with easily accessible services such as virtual care, fosters a healthcare environment that is centered on members, more equitable, and ultimately, more effective in achieving better health outcomes. 

person in telemedicine call

2. Personalized experiences are at the heart of delivering quality care

Personalized experiences lie at the heart of delivering exceptional healthcare. In today’s healthcare landscape, a one-size-fits-all approach simply does not work, as individuals possess varying needs, preferences, and levels of health literacy. Tailored services, such as Health and Benefits Navigation, extend beyond more than just customization. Our care coordinators actively promote health literacy, break down accessibility barriers, and employ inclusive language that caters to the unique requirements of all members. In doing so, we strive to create more personalized healthcare experiences that resonate with everyone we serve. Here’s how personalized care navigation at scale plays a pivotal role in improving health literacy:

  • Tailored information delivery: Personalized member experiences involve tailoring healthcare information to match an individual’s specific needs, preferences, and health conditions. This approach ensures that members receive information in a format and language that is most accessible and comprehensible to them. By presenting information in a way that resonates with the member, it becomes easier for them to understand and retain essential health knowledge.

  • Increased engagement: When members feel that their healthcare journey is personalized and that their unique concerns are being addressed, they become more engaged in their own care. This engagement leads to active participation in health-related discussions, asking questions, and seeking clarification when needed. Increased engagement fosters a sense of empowerment, motivating individuals to become more proactive in managing their health and seeking out relevant health information.

  • Building trust: Personalization also plays a significant role in building trust between care navigators and members. When members feel that their care is personalized to their specific needs, they are more likely to trust their healthcare providers and the information they receive. Trust is a fundamental component of health literacy, as members are more likely to follow recommended treatments and advice when they have confidence in their healthcare team.

  • Targeted health education: Personalized member experiences enable care navigators to identify areas where members may have knowledge gaps or misconceptions. This insight allows for the delivery of targeted health education materials and interventions aimed at addressing specific informational needs. By addressing these gaps, members can improve their understanding of their health conditions and treatment options.

Personalizing member experiences is not just about enhancing convenience and satisfaction; it’s a powerful tool for improving health literacy. By tailoring information, increasing engagement, building trust, and delivering targeted health education, personalization empowers individuals with the knowledge and confidence they need to make informed decisions about their health, ultimately leading to better health outcomes.

3. Health literacy is a cornerstone of employee empowerment

A healthcare delivery model, supported by a strong foundation of health literacy, has the ability to positively impact clinical outcomes, healthcare costs, and the overall member experience.

Comprehension: First and foremost, health literacy ensures that members are better equipped to comprehend their health conditions, preventative care methods, and treatment options. In an integrated care model, this means that members can actively engage in their own healthcare decisions. When individuals understand their conditions and treatment plans, they are more likely to adhere to prescribed therapies and follow recommended preventive measures. As a result, clinical outcomes improve, and the burden of preventable healthcare complications is reduced. Furthermore, the convenience, simplicity, and quality of care offered by virtual care within this integrated model ensure that members have continuous access to healthcare resources and support. This longitudinal care approach allows individuals to seamlessly follow through with their treatment plans, receive timely interventions, and maintain a consistent focus on their health, ultimately leading to improved clinical outcomes and an enhanced overall healthcare experience.

Empowerment: Members who feel empowered with knowledge about their health are more confident in their interactions with healthcare providers. They actively participate in discussions, ask pertinent questions, and seek clarification when needed. This level of engagement fosters trust, strengthens the patient-provider relationship, and ultimately leads to a more meaningful and patient-centered healthcare experience.

As healthcare continues to evolve, the incorporation of health literacy support into all care experiences will play a pivotal role in shaping a more member-centric and efficient healthcare landscape.

4. Health literacy is not just a concept

As employers seek solutions to provide comprehensive, personalized, and integrated healthcare experiences for their workforce, embracing health literacy emerges as a cornerstone for achieving better health outcomes.

The benefits are clear: empowered employees who understand their health conditions are able to access healthcare services effectively, and actively engage in their own care.

This results in cost savings, improved clinical outcomes, and a more equitable and member-centered healthcare landscape.

Through the integration of health literacy into virtual care and healthcare navigation services, you can unlock a better healthcare experience for your members. By providing accurate information, simple language, and personalized experiences, care navigators can empower individuals to make informed decisions about their health, reduce healthcare costs, and enhance their overall well-being. In a world where healthcare is rapidly evolving, a commitment to health literacy ensures that every member, regardless of their background or reading level, has equal access to essential health information and resources.

In the end, it's clear that health literacy is not just a concept but a powerful tool that, when woven into the fabric of integrated virtual care models, transforms the healthcare landscape and leads to a healthier future for members and employers alike.