Consumer Health Literacy and Engagement Project
New York City is home to one of the most diverse populations of health care consumers in the nation. Each of those consumers needs access to linguistically and culturally appropriate health information in order to access health services and effectively manage their own health. By enhancing the collective reach and impact of existing consumer resources, NYC health care stakeholders can improve health equity and overall health outcomes for all New Yorkers.
As part of the NYC PHIP charge to address health equity, the NYC PHIP developed a set of recommendations on how to align and improve efforts to support consumer health literacy and engagement. In 2017, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted a Consumer Health Literacy and Engagement Project to assess the current efforts of a variety of health care stakeholders to inform and engage consumers about health insurance and health care services.
The NYC PHIP, led by the NYC Health Department’s Bureau of Primary Care Access and Planning within the Division of Prevention and Primary Care, developed a strategic plan with recommendations for stakeholders across the NYC health care system. Understanding the current landscape of communications targeted at New Yorkers about how to access health insurance and health care services was central to developing recommendations for how all health system stakeholders might improve the development, translation, and delivery of such information in order to achieve greater reach and impact.
The project confirmed the need to better coordinate, align, and streamline cross-sector strategies related to consumer health literacy and engagement. In this strategic plan, the NYC PHIP outlines five broad recommendations for how health system stakeholders can improve the development, translation, and delivery of health care information:
- Increase the hiring of and support for peer health care workers (e.g., community health workers, peer coaches, educators or specialists) across the health care system who help educate and guide consumers.
- Increase and improve dialogue across organizations and people in the health care system to streamline consumer health literacy communication and engagement efforts.
- Increase training and partnership opportunities to promote cultural competency in health communication.
- Incorporate consumer health literacy needs into health care system redesign.
- Develop mechanisms to better measure and improve interpersonal elements, such as trust and respect, between consumers and the health care system. Interpersonal elements are critical for effective consumer engagement and efforts to improve collective health literacy.
This strategic plan aims to resolve barriers and build consensus among cross-sector stakeholders in order to improve health literacy and consumer engagement efforts across NYC, with the ultimate goal of increasing health outcomes and health equity for all New Yorkers.
Manager of Consumer Engagement
Bureau of Primary Care Access and Planning, Division of Prevention and Primary Care
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene