An Assurance Series Post (1)
Whether it relates to a routine check up or a global pandemic a better understanding of health-related information, human biology and treatment options is needed to better manage our own health care in the present and avoid epidemics in the future.
According to the CDC many Americans admit they struggle to understand health information. But a general understanding of the diagnosis (reason for the disease or disorder) and resulting treatment plan has little to do with your intellectual IQ or skill level. It's more about your health IQ. A health IQ relates to the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for yourselves and others (HRSA). It involves a knowledge of the biological systems that effect the health of the human body and your reasoning ability to make informed decisions about options for treatment in sickness and ways to protect your health.
As a high IQ is not the only factor determining intelligence but a common measure used to describe a person’s potential, a high health IQ does not guarantee optimum health. Knowledge and understanding of how your body works and responds to disease are important tools to increase your health IQ however there are a set of social, economic, and environmental determinants as well as someone's individual characteristics and behaviors that contributes to your health. A good health IQ forms a baseline so that you can manage these determinants to best ensure your health.
Studies show a knowledge of health improves health. In this series you will start to develop a “tool kit” to improve your health literacy, increase your understanding and build your confidence in navigating through the health care system. It is designed to support the diversity of all patients. It is not based on what you know but on what you need to know to be an educated consumer of health care resources to best ensure quality care.
As my background and experience is in the diagnosis and treatment of the medical, surgical and orthopedic diseases and disorders of the foot and ankle, I am going to focus on ways that you can improve your health IQ as it relates to my speciality. However this will lead us far a field. The lower extremities are attached to the rest of the body and as the parts cannot be separated from the whole neither can the pathology. Most of what we will discuss can be applied to all body system and easily translate.
I’m going to begin with the language of healthcare, commonly referred to as medical terminology. Because before you can appreciate and understand how your body works you need a clearer understanding of the words that are used to describe body parts and functions, diseases and disorders, tests and measurements, treatments, procedures and medicines. And as with any profession or skill there are special terms that apply to what you do.
Studies show that there is a gap in an understanding of the human body that influences the way patients seek and evaluate health care resulting in a disconnect that significantly affects the quality of health. We need to bridge that gap to increase your health IQ.
Next Post: A clear and easy way to decode basic medical terms commonly used in healthcare.