What We Can Do To Improve Health Literacy, Part II.

As discussed in last weeks blog post, low health literacy rates are a serious problem within the U.S. Fortunately, with the goals set forth by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), improving health literacy rates and creating a standard which is accessible for those of all health literacy levels is becoming more of a priority. This week we will cover two more proactive steps which one can take to help improve health literacy rates.

Breaking Down Cultural Barriers with HRSA

According to the US Census Bureau, the US population in 2002 was about 287 million. And according to the White House Office of Management and Budget, a 2002 report estimated the number of patient encounters across language barriers each year at 66 million. When calculated, about 25% of the population experienced language barriers when visiting a medical professional in 2002, and that’s assuming every US citizen visited a medical professional at least once. A large reason for low literacy rates in America are cultural communication barriers. Fortunately, The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has developed an online tool to help break down cultural barriers and open up communication between medical professionals and patients. Effective Communication Tools for Healthcare Professionals (ECTHP) is a free online training tool presented by the HRSA and available for all medical professionals. ECTHP is a 5 module system, including education in the following areas:


  1. Health communication

  2. Health Literacy

  3. Cultural competency

  4. Limited English Proficiency

  5. Capstone Activity


With its 5 modules, the training service takes approximately 5 hours and can help providers in learning how to actively acknowledge cultural diversity, address low health literacy, and accommodate low English proficiency. It is a tool that has helped over 4,000 medical professionals and students in improving patient-doctor communication, and when utilized can help to improve overall health literacy.


Committing to the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy

Finally, in 2010 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services developed the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy (NAPIHL). The plan was devised in order to engage organizations, professionals, policymakers, communities, individuals, and families in a linked, multi sector effort to improve health literacy. The plan itself lays out 7 goals that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services believe are necessary to improve health literacy and promote communication between medical professionals and patients. The goals are as follows:


  1. Develop and disseminate health and safety information that is accurate, accessible and actionable.

  2. Promote changes in the health care delivery system that improve health information, communication, informed decision making, and access to health services.

  3. Incorporate accurate, standards-based, and developmentally appropriate health and science information and curricula in child care and education through university levels.

  4. Support and expand local efforts to provide adult education, English language instructions, and culturally and linguistically appropriate health information services in the community.

  5. Build partnerships, develop guidance, and change policies.

  6. Increase basic research and the development, implementation, and evaluation of practices and interventions to improve health literacy.

  7. Increase the dissemination and use of evidence-based health literacy practices and interventions. to communication, informed decision making, and access to health service.


Following these goals takes commitment on part of a medical practice. And while the NAPIHL is still in its preliminary stages, it is thought that each goal should work together as building blocks for a more health literate future.

Health literacy in America has been a problem for far too long. Assuredly, with the many goals laid out by the Affordable Care Act (ie: shared decision making, patient engagement, etc.) focusing our nation’s efforts on improving health literacy is now crucial. And with the different technological resources and government standards set in motion, a more health literate future finally seems possible. At Polar Green, we’re working towards designing innovative technology that promotes solutions to modern concerns such as health literacy. For more information on what we do at Polar Green and how you can get involved in developing more of a health literate future, visit us here: http://bit.ly/1mvdzkl


Preparing For Your Surgery

healthcare literacy

With today’s health technology, modern surgery is safer now than ever before. And yet, when it comes to going under, it’s understandable why one might feel anxious and worried. Surgery can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. As a company invested in simplifying the medical process, we here at Polar Green have put together a list of easy steps on how to prepare for your surgery and ensure for the best possible outcome.


Preparing for Surgery

1. Options. Before going in for a surgical procedure, it’s necessary to understand your options. In many cases, surgery is not the only option. If you do need surgery, however, it’s important to know if it is a priority, if it can wait until a more convenient time, as well as whether or not there are various surgical options to choose from.

2. Surgical Team. When going for a surgery, you’ll want to know you’re in good hands. Work with your primary doctor to choose your best option in terms of hospitals and surgeons. Often the best hospitals are those that have more experience in your specific surgery.

3. Instructions. As soon as you decide that you’ll be having a surgery, you’ll want to ask your doctor how to prepare. Being well rested and healthy is ideal for surgeries and an optimum recovery time. For those of you that smoke, stopping smoking at least two weeks before your surgery is a good idea.

4. Be Informed. It’s necessary to know that no matter the surgery, complications are possible. And while keeping a positive attitude and following pre-surgery instructions will help in obtaining the best possible outcome, it’s important for you to speak with your doctor and learn about any common or possible complications. The best patients are informed patients.

5. Have Someone. Ask a friend, family member, or loved one to be there for you for when you wake up. When waking up after surgery, you’ll most likely be experiencing grogginess and a little pain. Planning for a familiar face to be there to explain where you are and what is happening will help.

6. After the Surgery. Make sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have and to simplify any answers you may not understand. After a surgery it’s important to fully understand what you’ll need to do to have the best recovery possible. It’s reasons like this which is why we’ve created the Informacio Workstation.


With all the new medical technology and healthcare IT in the world today, safe surgeries and recoveries are more common now than ever before. No matter the surgery, however, it’s still just as important to make the necessary pre-surgery preparations to ensure all goes smoothly. And when it comes to understanding your surgery and what you’ll need to do to recover, we here at Polar Green have got you covered. With a passion for improving medical literacy, we’ve developed a prototype to help close the gap within the doctor patient relationship. To learn more and help support our mission to improve medical literacy, visit our Indiegogo campaign here: http://bit.ly/1jqHD0A


Building A Doctor Patient Relationship

patient doctor relationship health literacy polar green

With all the new medical technology and resources for information available today, it’s important you’re being informed by a source you can trust. In today’s day and age, there is little relationship more important in terms of your everyday health than that between you and your doctor. And being a company passionate about the fluidity of relaying medical information, we at Polar Green understand that. That’s why we’ve created a short list on how to build a strong doctor patient relationship.

Building A Doctor Patient Relationship

 1. Be Honest. The best relationships are built on trust. With today’s health technology, many medical professionals can use physical exams to gather information about their patients, but those exams only take them so far. Telling your doctor the truth about your diet, medication, sexual histories, alcohol consumption, etc. is the best way to build a relationship and ultimately receive top care.

2. Participate. A doctor patient relationship is not a one-way street. Before coming to the doctor, make sure you know and are prepared to relay your medical history. And when it comes to a diagnosis, be sure to ask questions and inform your doctor of any barriers that may prevent you from fulfilling their requests.

 3. Listen. Your doctor’s advice is designed to improve your health. And while it’s not always easy to change an old habit or current lifestyle, actively listening to your doctor, as well as taking the necessary actions, will help improve your health and uncover any underlying issues. And remember, if you’re receiving conflicting advice from friends, family, or a different source, don’t forget that your doctor knows your medical history and has the medical know-how to make the correct analysis.

4. Be Polite. While you may feel grumpy because you’re sick, being polite can go a long way. When a patient is polite, the doctor can feel comfortable around the patient and in return the patient around the doctor. Politeness is a recipe for a comfortable and productive visit.

With all the different resources for information out there, trying to take care of your health can become a difficult and confusing task. Forming a strong doctor patient relationship with your medical professional will only make things easier. At Polar Green, patients are our passion. As a health technology company, we’re here to help close the gap between medical professionals and their patients. For more information on the strides we’re taking, check out our IndieGogo campaign, which is now live!


Preparing For The Doctor

health literacy

As a company that specializes in health literacy, we here at Polar Green know that a visit to the doctor’s office can be frustrating. With all the bits of information you’re trying to remember and take in, sometimes it can just be an overload. That’s why in today’s day and age, it’s more important than ever to be prepared before you even leave your home. Fortunately, we’ve put together a short list on how to prepare for your upcoming doctor visit.


Prepare for the Doctor

1. Think. Why did you make this appointment? Before visiting a doctor, it’s important to take some time and think about what you’d like to get out of the visit. Having an idea and goal as to why you’re visiting the doctor is the best way to optimize the time spent at the appointment.

2. Jot It Down. When you’re taking in a ton of new information from a medical professional, it’s easy to forget what was originally on your mind. Before even stepping foot out of your door, jot down your thoughts, feelings, and questions, and rank them in terms of priority. This will ensure you get the most out of your visit.

3. Health ID. When you get to the doctor’s office, you’ll want everything to run as smoothly as possible. Ensure a fluid visit by making sure you have your points of identification including your personal ID, Health Insurance ID Card, as well as a form of payment.

4.  Medical History. If this is your first time visiting this particular doctor, he or she is going to want to know your medical history. Be prepared with an up-to-date handwritten or printed copy of your medical history. This will cut time spent on asking you questions and let you get to the point of the visit much quicker.


Getting the most out of your doctor’s appointment is important. That’s why it’s necessary to start preparing before you even leave your home. Following our list on Preparing for the Doctor, is a great place to start. At Polar Green, health literacy is our number one priority. In an effort to close the gap between medical professionals and their patients, we have developed a prototype known as the Informacio Workstation. For more information on the Informacio Workstation, visit our website and sign up for our newsletter here: http://bit.ly/OzfdGw

Improving Health Literacy

health literacy medical technology new medical tech polar green

With all the new technologies, as well as future technology to come, we’re pretty lucky to be living in such a medically advanced society. In fact, in just the past 30 years the average life expectancy in America has grown by almost 10 years. And yet, with all the new technology and specialized vocabulary our doctors and medical professionals use, it often becomes a daunting task to try and understand the simplest explanations. Thats why, as a company that specializes in health literacy, we here at Polar Green have put together a list of some of our favorite techniques in improving ones health literacy.

Improve Health Literacy

1. Ask. One of the best ways to improve health literacy is by asking questions. If a doctor explains something and it’s confusing, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It’s important to understand ones own health and asking questions will do just that.

2. Repeat. Hearing and understanding are two different things. Once your doctor has broken down and explained what you need to know, try repeating it back to the doctor in your own words. Being able to do this ensures that you understand the situation, or will inform your doctor that he or she must further clarify.

3. Medicine. Misusing medication is dangerous. The next time you visit the doctor, bring all of the medications you take with you. Bringing in your medications will avoid harmful miscommunication and guarantee you are correctly following directions.

4. Friend. If you have a difficult time processing or understanding your medical profession, consider bringing a friend along on your visit. A friend can help cover the bases and be an extra set of eyes and ears when it comes to understanding.

5. Interpreter. In the event that you or someone you know does not speak English, but is visiting an English speaking doctor, it’s important to ask for an interpreter. Every citizen has a right to an interpreter at zero cost. Let your doctor know which language you would prefer to make an appointment in.

Not understanding what a doctor is explaining can be a scary and potentially harmful situation. At Polar Green, health literacy is our number one priority. In an effort to close the gap between medical professionals and their patients, we have developed a prototype known as the Informacio Workstation. For more information on the Informacio Workstation, visit our website and sign up for our newsletter here: http://bit.ly/OzfdGw