Essay on Healthy Literacy and Consumer Information

Published: 2021/12/02
Number of words: 1967

To ensure patient safety, quality, and satisfaction with healthcare services, consumer behavior is crucial. Literacy in health refers to how well a person understands both their own abilities and the demands imposed on them by the healthcare system. Consumers’ ability to make informed decisions and take appropriate action on their health and medical care depends on their level of health literacy. Healthcare providers, customer connections, and the way healthcare is delivered all depend on it. Healthcare organizations and the health system’s organizational and structural architecture must be taken into account by managers and policymakers alike. Further research, reliable assessment, and development of potential solutions for addressing low health literacy are all complicated by the ongoing controversies about whether health literacy is an individual or system skill, static or dynamic. All nursing and health care activities should have health literacy as their primary goal. Starting with self-examination and reevaluating communication abilities, clinicians can make progress. A person’s health literacy can be improved by steering clear of medical jargon, asking thoughtful questions, and providing teach-back to assure understanding. Clinicians should also look for ways to make getting health care services easier for patients (Kickbusch et al., 2013).

This concept describes how well a consumer knows and understands health information so that they may make educated decisions and take the right actions to improve their overall health and well-being. Environments affecting health literacy include things like health system infrastructure and policies as well as processes, resources, and relationships that can make it simpler or more difficult for patients to access health-related information, make informed decisions, and take action. We need aggregated data because inadequate health literacy leads to more people using medical services, fewer people knowing about them, and worse health outcomes. Low health literacy is associated with a 1.5 to 3 times greater risk of poor health outcomes for an individual. In other words, addressing health literacy is a coordinated effort that can increase consumers’ ability to make effective health and health care decisions and actions, as well as the health system’s capacity to support this. It can also help ensure that the health system is safe, high-quality, and sustainable in the long term. Health literacy must be embedded in high-quality education, integrated into high-quality health care, and fully integrated into high-quality health care for this to be achieved (Shipman et al., 2009).

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Because of this, healthcare providers and management both play crucial roles. When working with patients and their families, they are required to make health information more readily available, comprehensible, and usable in order to help people take appropriate measures and make educated decisions about their health and healthcare. They are also intended to reduce the risk of patient injury by improving communication and information exchange between healthcare providers and patients. Health care executives in charge. Reduce barriers to receiving health care for customers. To make accurate, targeted, and useful health information more readily available to consumers. Increasing consumer engagement with healthcare organizations should improve the quality and safety of healthcare (Magahis, 2021).

As previously stated, one of the key duties of healthcare workers is to ease customers’ access to, knowledge of, and use of information. For various reasons, public health practitioners must emphasize online health information. Consumers increasingly rely on the Internet for health information; over 70 000 websites provide health information. Online health information users are estimated to be high, showing exponential expansion. For instance when National Library of Medicine made Medline accesible online, over 250 000 searches per day were made. 7 million searches in 1997 grew to over 120 million in 1998, with consumers accounting for almost a third. In response, the NLM launched MedlinePlus, a consumer-only website (Marill et al., 2006).

As a result of the growth of participatory the increase of health knowledge that overwhelms any single physician, cost-cutting measures for reducing doctorss’ time with victim and raise concerns about access to the best care, an emphasis on self-care and prevention, and an aging population, consumers’ online health-information seeking is increasing. Convenience, confidentiality, and a diverse range of information sources are also qualities that consumers value.

MedlinePlus, a major health information site, presents a variety of issues when it comes to design, modification, and improvement. The health information website of the NLM serves the general public with reliable health information. There are links to the National Institutes of Health and other government institutions as well as properly approved professional and non-profit health groups on this site. The strengths of the NLM and NIH are built upon by MedlinePlus. Health information selection and organization at the library has a long and renowned history; the library developed MEDLINE/PubMed, the world’s most comprehensive health research database. Reviewers and pickers use a web-based database input system to produce, analysis and update records, employing links to health knowledge on other websites. Health topic pages include hyperlinked pages created from site records. Selectors can also perform ongoing, extensive assessments of sites using the input system. Reviewers integrate the changes made by selectors into the production MedlinePlus database, which is hosted on a development website. There are also selection guidelines and commonly asked questions as well as selected websites and spotlights on the MedlinePlus team’s static HTML language page. The National Library of Medicine’s information technology staff administers the input system that synchronizes data between the development and production departments. Medical topic pages, features, and licensed content all go into creating the MedlinePlus public user experience. Through the use of MedlinePlus, users will have access to comprehensive health information in one convenient location. Changing Web design trends, usability testing suggestions, user survey results, technological needs for additional material, and the need to grow the site slowly all have an impact on how the public interface looks (Miller et al., 2004)

The site’s challenges are divided into six categories, each of which highlights a different design challenge and how NLM personnel overcame it. Firstly The MedlinePlus team has had numerous disagreements about page design. The site has grown dramatically in the last six years, and the pages must reflect this growth in a logical manner. The website should be active, luring new people in with fresh information on a regular basis. Second, MedlinePlus’s technological design is influenced by a variety of Web protocols and usability issues. Third, optimizing the design of the health topic pages has been a challenge, particularly in terms of where the table of contents and links to relevant subject content should be placed. In response to significant user testing and the development of Web design standards, the NLM made changes to this design. MedlinePlus also offers full-text access to documents from the National Institutes of Health, other federal agencies, and a few non-profit organizations. The ongoing challenge is to direct customers to these offerings while ensuring MedlinePlus continuity. When HTML design mockups are turned to database-generated code, new issues arise.

The next major design challenge for the MedlinePlus team will be to provide access to information about local health providers via a series of “Go Local” Websites. Medical libraries and other partners can organize local health services around MedlinePlus issues thanks to a Web development environment established by the National Library of Medicine. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is responsible for hosting the records and creating the Go Local Web sites, as well as the nomenclature and mapping between the Go Local applications and MedlinePlus, zip code lookup and picture maps, and a search engine for each area. Participants use the Internet to log in to the National Library of Medicine’s system to create and update records. Although the NLM maintains complete control over the Go Local sites’ organization and design, participants can customize them by adding a logo, for example. The goal is to create websites that are well-organized, have clear labeling, are easy to navigate, and follow rules. The usefulness of the designs was assessed, and the first sites were launched in the spring of 2005.

Go Local raises a slew of design concerns. It’s difficult to communicate the difference between MedlinePlus health information and local health services, for example; customers must be aware of the Go Local site’s sponsor. Another technique to design is to consider how consumers expect to search for items based on their location. During the site’s early usability testing, some users requested a city/town search option, while others expected a zip code lookup. Go Local will do continual usability testing as new types of data become available. Users may now search for local companies and services on popular search engines like Google and Bing.

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As user experience research becomes more widespread, Go Local will need to keep an eye on the outcomes in the future. Organizations and brands must overcome a variety of challenges in order to be successful. MedlinePlus can’t keep up with the growing amount of useful health information available online. Many diseases and conditions contain so much information that a redesign of the health subject pages is required to achieve a balance between the public’s desire for specialized knowledge and the risk of over-information on the sites. Furthermore, the project is concerned about the need for better metadata integration of licensed content commodities into health-related topic sites. Really easy syndication, a method of disseminating information, should be evaluated to see if it is helpful in notifying subscribers of new health-related articles and issues. MedlinePlus en espaol will go through additional testing in order to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking information seekers. When health information gets translated into more of the country’s languages, the demand for multilingualism will skyrocket.

To summarize, The process of improving MedlinePlus is an iterative one. Every modification in design is followed by testing and analysis. Fast product releases and adequately tested designs require some trade-offs; if the trade-offs do not work out as intended, they may need to be revisited. To accommodate the addition of new features and information, MedlinePlus’ user interface will need to adapt. The site’s design incorporates a variety of factors, and there is a tension between the need to keep up with the rapid expansion of Web design needs and the risk of confusing website visitors. New technologies may increase the complexity of designs, but they may also make them more difficult to use and access. The expectations of web users, as well as industry norms, are always shifting. Because the design is always changing and generating new issues, this has important implications for MedlinePlus.


Kickbusch, I., Pelikan, J. M., Apfel, F., & Tsouros, A. (2013). Health literacy. WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Magahis, E. B. (2021). The Impact of Nurse Practitioner Evidence-Based Education on Health Literacy among Adult Patients with Coronary Artery Disease (Doctoral dissertation, Grand Canyon University).

Marill, J. L., Miller, N., & Kitendaugh, P. (2006). The MedlinePlus public user interface: studies of design challenges and opportunities. Journal of the Medical Library Association94(1), 30.

Miller, N., Tyler, R. J., & Backus, J. E. (2004). MedlinePlus®: the National Library of Medicine® brings quality information to health consumers.

Shipman, J. P., Kurtz-Rossi, S., & Funk, C. J. (2009). The health information literacy research project. Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA97(4), 293.

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