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Lake Hospital System Selected as Pilot Site for Health Information Literacy Research Project
Date:4/15/2008

PAINESVILLE, Ohio, April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Communication is essential for the effective delivery of health care. Unfortunately, there is often a disparity between what a doctor says and a patient's level of understanding. In fact, evidence shows that patients often misinterpret or do not understand much of the information given to them. This lack of understanding can lead to missed appointments, medication errors and poor medical outcomes.

To help facilitate effective communication between medical professionals and their patients, Lake Hospital System is participating in a research project that aims to boost "health literacy" nationwide. Health literacy is defined as the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions and follow instructions for treatment.

"The need for today's patients to be 'health literate' is greater than ever, because medical care has grown progressively more complex," said Ted Nichols, MD, senior vice president of Medical Affairs for Lake Hospital System. "We treat our patients with an ever-increasing array of medications, and we ask them to take on more and more complicated self-care regimens."

Lake Hospital System is one of only nine hospital libraries across the country selected to participate in the Medical Library Association's Health Information Literacy Research Project, which is being funded through a $250,000 two-year contract from the National Library of Medicine. Under the project, participants will evaluate hospital-based health care providers' awareness and understanding of health information literacy and its value in support of patient care. This research will lay the foundation for the development of health information literacy education classes to be given by hospital librarians to their local health care providers.

"There are many factors that influence health literacy. In addition to a patient's general literacy, you have to consider the individual's amount of experience in the health care system, the complexity of the information being presented and cultural factors that may influence decision making," explained Holly Kimborowicz, Lake Hospital System's health science librarian.

"Add to this the emotions that can be involved, especially with the diagnosis of a serious illness, and it's not surprising that patients and their families are often overwhelmed by all information being communicated to them," she said.

Kimborowicz said studies show that health care professionals can most readily improve patients' health literacy by confirming that patients understand the information communicated and by adopting a more patient- friendly communication style that encourages questions.

Most patients, however, have questions after they leave their doctor's office. With the proliferation of online medical information, most health care consumers seek out answers on their own. But information obtained on the Internet isn't always accurate.

Lake Hospital System librarians work directly with patients to guide them through the information gathering process and direct them to Web sites, such as MedlinePlus, that provide up-to-date, relevant information.

"We're here to make it easier for members of the community to connect with the information they need to make educated decisions regarding their health care. Our ultimate goal is to help them become educated, active participants in their health care, which ultimately leads to improved medical outcomes," Kimborowicz said.

Lessons learned through participation in initiatives like the Health Information Literacy Research Project will help the library staff refine plans for the new health information resource library that will be part of Lake Hospital System's TriPoint Medical Center, the new $155 million, digital hospital being built in Concord Township. There, patients and health care professionals will be able to access health information through online portals, medical journals, books, videos and other resources.

About Lake Hospital System

For six consecutive years NorthCoast 99 has named Lake Hospital System one of the 99 Best Places to work in Northeast Ohio. Thomson also recently named Lake Hospital System one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. for cardiovascular care. A leader in community-based health care in Northeast Ohio, Lake Hospital System provides high-quality, accessible health services for all stages of life. Lake Hospital System delivers progressive, compassionate health care through eight state-of-the-art facilities staffed by more than 500 physicians and 2,600 health care professionals.

Contacts:

Kristin Wilson, Brokaw

(216) 685-4526

kwilson@brokaw.com

Julieann Strogin, Lake Hospital System

(440) 354-1940

julie.strogin@lhs.net


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SOURCE Lake Hospital System
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