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

ou 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
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