Week 2, Health Literacy Attribute 2!

Say Ah! is celebrating Health Literacy Month with an interview and discussion series on the Ten Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations. Below you will find the second interview of the series. This interview is meant both to inform and spark discussion. Please feel free to comment, question or contribute! Thank you!

Week 2, Attribute 2: A Health Literate Health Care Organization Integrates Health Literacy into Planning, Evaluation Measures, Patient Safety, and Quality Improvement.

We caught up with Melissa Davey, Social Marketing & Community Engagement Coordinator, to find out how the Adirondack Health Institute (AHI) operationalizes health literacy.

Say Ah!: In what areas does AHI excel in integrating health literacy into its planning, evaluation measures, patient safety and quality improvement – and in what areas would it like to improve?


Melissa: Our strengths in this arena include our strategy and vision for increasing awareness and implementation of best practices to promote health literacy in our service area, as well as internally.  Our cultural competency and health training and education strategy for partner organizations is robust and multifaceted.  AHI has begun to reassess community education materials being distributed at community events, local peer advocacy groups, and advertisements in the media. We are extremely considerate of low health literacy needs that occur in the population we serve and tailor our communication materials as such. Incorporating health literacy into planning events and these materials has definitely been a top priority of ours. We could use improvement in internal processes related to health literacy, and engagement of physicians/clinical providers in health literacy initiatives.

Say Ah!. How do you assess the health literacy of AHI?


Melissa: Internally, AHI is currently evaluating our own health literacy through a Cultural Competency and Health Literacy Task Force. Using a standardized tool, we will begin to internally assess our organizational levels of health literacy and cultural competence.  The standardized assessments incorporates frameworks from both the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (CLAS standards) and 10 Attributes of a Health Literate Health Care Organization.


Say Ah!: In terms of patient safety and quality improvements, what has been your experience good and bad with implementing health literacy best practices for effective communication?

Melissa: While AHI doesn’t work directly with patients, as an organization we have worked hard in the past year to speak to the importance of health literacy best practices to our partners. Health literacy and effective communication work hand-in-hand and can really be tied to so many positive outcomes for patients and communities as a whole. While it may be time consuming to look through materials, website content and flyers, we have communicated that for our partners to achieve the outcomes they desire, doing so is a necessary step. The only “bad” we have experienced is some resistance to achieving ‘buy in’ to the concept of health literacy and its importance.  We often hear from provider organizations especially that they do not have time to attend health literacy trainings, assess their organizational health literacy, or adopt/implement interventions and practices to promote health literacy amongst their patient population.


Melissa Davey is the Social Marketing & Community Engagement Coordinator at AHI. In addition, Melissa is the project lead for the Cultural Competency and Health Literacy (CCHL) workstream. She coordinates all aspects of CCHL training from material development to marketing and public relations. She has developed a strong enthusiasm for this impactful work.

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