Building Health Literate Organizations:
A Guidebook to Achieving Organizational Change

A health literate health care organization is described as easier for people to use, and critical to delivering patient-centered care (Ten Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations). It supports patient-provider communication to improve health care quality, reduce errors, facilitate shared decision-making, and improve health outcomes.

This guidebook will help health care organizations of any size engage in organizational change to become health literate. It complements many excellent health literacy resources, helping you use them effectively and reliably. It includes background, resources, examples, and lessons learned to help build a health literate health care organization.

How to Use the Guidebook

The guidebook contains chapters and a case study on key health literacy development areas that intersect with the attributes of health literate health care organizations:

  • Engaging leadership
  • Preparing the workforce
  • The care environment
  • Involving populations served
  • Verbal communication
  • Reader-friendly materials

Each chapter answers these questions:

  • Why? Why do you need to address health literacy issues in this area? Why is it important?
  • What? What would success in this area look like? What are the target outcomes? Success may include changes to process, behavior, and attitudes, as well as health outcomes.
  • How? What tools, resources, and actions will you use to reach the target outcomes?


Start with any chapter. This is not a step-by-step process and there is not one correct starting point. Each chapter relates to the others, but each can stand alone. Each is necessary, but not sufficient, to bring about improvement. Start where you can begin to build a pattern of success. Build to work in more than one area at a time, eventually working in all key areas for results you can sustain. 


Suggested Citation
Abrams MA, Kurtz-Rossi S, Riffenburgh A, Savage BA. Building Health Literate
Organizations:  A Guidebook to Achieving Organizational Change. 2014. Available at: http://www.HealthLiterateOrganization.org

Acknowledgement
Development of the guidebook was supported, in part, by the Community Responsive Grant Program through the Wellmark Foundation, Des Moines, Iowa.