Core 3.4

CORE 40 - Health Literacy

Submited by: Tom Goddard

The Basics

This standard, a new, experimental standard, suggests that your organization should have policies and procedures that address health literacy. In this context, the meaning of health literacy is, "The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate decisions regarding their health." The three suggested elements are:

  • making sure the consumer materials are in plain language;
  • measuring the extent to which the organization's consumer documents use plain language; and
  • training staff members who interface with or write content for consumers.
Your organization may or may not have such a policy and procedure. The standard is not required, yet, but likely will be in the future, so your organization may be developing a health literacy policy and procedure in anticipation of when this becomes a standard that is no longer optional.

Management Tips

The elements of this standard are known as Leading Indicators. While they are worth no points in the accreditation calculation, URAC does want applicants to develop a policy and procedure for this issue, even if it is not yet implemented. In light of the fact that this is likely to be a standard with point value at some point in the future, we recommend that you develop the policy and procedure now, and begin implementing it over the next two or three years, if you do not currently have a health literacy program.

Accreditation Tips

Desktop Review
For the desktop review, submit any policies and procedures addressing health literacy in consumer materials, as well as a policies and procedures that address staff training around this issue. In addition, if you have any written materials already developed that incorporate health literacy in plain language, you should submit that, too.
Validation Review
The reviewer will interview program management and staff members to assess the extent to which you have implemented your policies and procedures regarding health literacy and plain language. The interview may also include staff members who have a responsibility for writing or editing consumer-facing materials.
Document Review
During the on-site review, the reviewer will look for evidence of implementation, including a demonstration in communication materials have been reviewed and approved as complying with the health literacy in plain language policies of that organization.  

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