Background and Objectives:
The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is transforming the health care sector. As health care organizations move from crisis mobilization to a new landscape of health and social needs, organizational health literacy offers practical building blocks to provide high-quality, efficient, and meaningful care to patients and their families. Organizational health literacy is defined by the Institute of Medicine as “the degree to which an organization implements policies, practices, and systems that make it easier for people to navigate, understand, and use information and services to take care of their health.”
This article synthesizes insights from organizational health literacy in the context of current major health care challenges and toward the goal of innovation in patient-centered care. We first provide a brief overview of the origins and outlines of organizational health literacy research and practice. Second, using an established patient-centered innovation framework, we show how the existing work on organizational health literacy can offer a menu of effective, patient-centered innovative options for care delivery systems to improve systems and outcomes. Finally, we consider the high value of management focusing on organizational health literacy efforts, specifically for patients in health care transitions and in the rapid transformation of care into myriad distance modalities.
This article provides practical guidance for systems and informs decisions around resource allocation and organizational priorities to best meet the needs of patient populations even in the face of financial and workforce disruption.
Organizational health literacy principles and guidelines provide a road map for promoting patient-centered care even in this time of crisis, change, and transformation. Health system leaders seeking innovative approaches can have access to well-established tool kits, guiding models, and materials toward many organizational health literacy goals across treatment, diagnosis, prevention, education, research, and outreach.