Health Literacy Wisconsin is a division of Wisconsin Literacy, Inc., a coalition of 65 adult literacy agencies in Wisconsin. We foster awareness, develop resources and engage in local and national advocacy around the topic of health literacy. We also develop and manage innovative community-based health literacy interventions, with the goal of bridging the gap between the health literacy skills of consumers and the demands that the health care system places upon them.
"People understand health."
"To help people find, understand and use health information and services to make informed decisions."
It was less than ten years ago that health literacy was first measured on a national scale. The results revealed that only 12 percent of Americans are proficient in health literacy and 93 million Americans 16 years or older (43 percent of the population) read at the two lowest literacy levels. We learned that health literacy isn’t just an issue that affects people with limited English or low literacy skills; 88 percent of us are challenged by the health care system. And with consequences such as medical errors, prescription drug misuse and wasted dollars throughout the health care system, we can’t afford to ignore this issue.
As a national leader in the new field of health literacy, Health Literacy Wisconsin has spent much of the last decade raising awareness of this silent crisis in health care. With champions like Dr. Paul Smith from the University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine, Health Literacy Wisconsin hosted four health literacy summits, fostered four regional health literacy committees, made over 150 health literacy presentations and sought out funding for numerous health literacy projects that are improving health outcomes. We have worked closely with both adult literacy providers and health care providers to equip them with information and resources to make the issue of health literacy a priority for their clients and patients.
As we look ahead, the field of health literacy offers many promising practices—from new standards from The Joint Commission in language, literacy, culture and patient safety to a newly released National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Health Literacy Wisconsin is a key partner in efforts to form a national coalition on health literacy and we look forward to sharing our work with those who are as inspired as we are to improve the health and education of the people of Wisconsin.