What is health literacy?
The concept is very simple, according to the world health organisation - the more a patient knows about their medicine, the more likely they are to continue taking their prescribed treatment correctly. The benefits to patients who do increase their knowledge of their medicines is well documented and include:
- Increase in health outcomes
- Increase in quality of life
- Save money by decreasing unnecessary health care related costs
- Increase in medicine compliance
- Increase in patient safety
So, in effect, health literacy is a crucial factor not only in improving patient’s overall health but also saves critical resources for the Health service and ultimately the taxpayer.
So, why are we launching a National Health Literacy day?
- Raising awareness about the benefits of learning more about your medicines - is the primary objective of our National Health Literacy Day. It’s such a simple thing that patients can do, that is to do a bit of research into their medicines -- and also, to let the public know that this simple action of learning more about their medicines -- has fantastic benefits to patient’s health outcomes and patient’s quality of life. This is the key point we will be trying to get across to the public.
- So, for example, If someone is currently taking a medicine for what-ever reason, and that person is still not feeling 100%, what we are saying to them is - - there is something you can do yourself about this – you are not powerless--- find out as much as you can about your medicines, educate and upskill, and by doing this, according to the World Health Organistaion, you will not only improve your health outcomes but will also improve your quality of life.
So, what do we do to help patients increase their health literacy?
We have developed a new evidence based health literacy service which our patients access once their prescription has been dispensed. We redesigned the prescription journey to incorporate a “new step” in the dispensing of prescription medicines. This new step is carried out at our newly installed - Patient Medicine Consultation Suite. The service was developed following a 6-month longitudinal study in 2015-2016 we carried out at our pharmacy, on the relationship between increasing a patient’s knowledge of their medicines and any corresponding improvement in the patient’s medicine compliance.
It was necessary to develop the patient medicine consultation system in order to carry out our study. Today, the pharmacist-patient consultation is endless, when the patient leaves the pharmacy, the consultation continues and this unique service is facilitated via our telemedicine system. The results of our study in 2016 showed an increase in our patient’s medicine compliance by 63% and also the Pharmacist - Patient medicine consultations rose to 100%. And most importantly of all, our new service is evidence based. we have done the studies, we know it works, and our results are being published in an academic journal in the coming months, the Journal of Public Health in the UK.
Your health really is your wealth and you must look after it. We are supporting our patients in self-management of their health. We are the first Pharmacy in Ireland to successfully tackle medicine adherence with an evidence based system, which increases our patients knowledge and understanding of their medicines.
What we found in our study was that by increasing a patients knowledge of their medicines, their adherence also increased. This has a positive impact on improving health outcomes for patients and lowering unnecessary healthcare costs for both the patient and the state.
The benefits of our new service include:
- Medicine consultations increases to 100% from 15%
- Medicine adherence increases to 65% from 40%
- Health outcomes increased
- Health Literacy increases
- Cost savings for patients by decreasing unnecessary health related costs
- Lower hospital visits as patients knowledge of their medicines increases
- Cost savings for tax payers as unnecessary health related costs and complications decrease
- Patient safety increases
- Patient quality of life increases
- Supporting patients in self-management of illnesses
- Keeping our customers healthier, for longer
- Empowering customers with personalised health education