aha media health literacy

Only one in 10 adults has the skills to obtain, process and use online health information. Even people with advanced skills can have difficulty when they are dealing with stress or illness.

In the five years since the Affordable Care Act set the stage for improving health literacy, health care organizations across the country have gone to great lengths to make their online content more understandable. However, most Americans are still not able to effectively use this information to make decisions about their care.

One of the main culprits is our heavy reliance on written content. According to patient engagement experts, patients remember:

  • 10 percent of what they read
  • 20 percent of what they hear
  • 30 percent of what they see
  • 70 percent of what they see AND hear

5 Tips for Using Interactive Content to Improve Health Literacy

Despite writing clearly and using simple display techniques, we’re learning that text alone is not an effective way to communicate health information. Using a variety of interactive techniques can help improve your readers’ understanding of important health-related content.

Here we offer five tips:

  • Make it easier for users to filter information with touch features. For example, an easy-to-use interface of the human body, such as the one in WebMD’s symptom checker, lets users point to body parts instead of identifying them from a list.
  • Emphasize important content with visual cues. Compared to words, visual content, including photographs, illustrations and icons, is easier for our brains to process. This makes it easier to remember.
  • Offer short videos to explain complex concepts. In addition to boosting comprehension, video content adds depth and warmth to your content, which can help users connect with your brand in ways not available through text. Even more, users spend 100 percent more time on pages with videos on them.
  • Use click-to-call as an alternative to live chat. The same people who have trouble reading your content are not likely to engage in a text-based exchange. Instead, offer a click-to-call feature so users can speak directly with someone if they are stuck.
  • Help everyone understand your content with text to speech and translation capabilities. Text to speech features, such as those offered by iSpeech, allow users to select written content and have it spoken back to them. Services such as imTranslator not only convert text to speech, but also translate content into 10 different languages.

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