In early 2017, Equitas Health was seeking to explore how the organization’s investment in increasing the health literacy of their team members, as well as their patients and customers, might positively impact staff satisfaction and patients’ health outcomes. Nationally, studies were consistently finding that there was a strong correlation between health disparities and health literacy. But how can an organization support initiatives that advance health literacy in ways that are both sustainable for the organization, and that achieve the desired health outcomes for patients?
In March that same year, Equitas Health received funding through the Ohio Department of Health’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to conduct annual assessments. With the first assessment in 2017, Equitas would collect baseline data, and then track the organization’s progress in increasing health literacy among its staff in subsequent years. Equitas Health selected Measurement Resources Company to create the assessment tool the organization would use. The grant funding started in April, and the assessment was completed in May 2017.
While Equitas Health has only administered the assessment in 2017 and 2018, it has plans to continue this measurement work over the next several years.
“In our 2017 assessment results—our baseline data—there were staff members who were uncertain that they could adequately define what health literacy was,” said Kelly Wesp, PhD, director of Quality and Evaluation at Equitas Health. “From the 2017 to the 2018 assessment, we saw significant improvements in eight out of the 10 domains that we were measuring. Staff awareness about health literacy had increased. We had conducted an extensive awareness campaign throughout 2018, and we were excited to see that return on investment so quickly.”
With the changes between year one and year two, Kelly explains, the next step will be to move from an informational phase into the desire phase. Not only do Equitas team members know what health literacy is, and what it means for their roles and why it matters to the organization, they also have a desire to do more to help the organization achieve even more.
Measurement Resources Company helped Equitas Health develop a change management strategy, which promotes the socialization of data from assessments to help team members along the continuum of the change process until it becomes part of the genetic makeup an organization’s culture.
“Because the data showed positive movement between year one and year two, there was increased buy-in from leadership to prioritize initiatives supporting this goal,” said Kelly. “Taking a data-driven approach provided even more opportunities for them to further examine new, innovative ways and areas that they could apply resources to help accelerate positive change. From adjusting client-facing forms to how we operate our clinics, the organization’s leadership witnessed firsthand how implementing these seemingly small changes also improved our relationships with our patients.”
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