• Academy Launches New Patient Education Materials to Meet Health Literacy Standards

    Easy-to-understand materials can help ophthalmologists increase patient compliance, reduce malpractice suits and improve outcomes

    CHICAGO — Low literacy rates contribute to poor patient compliance, leading to increased hospitalizations and chronic illness and costing the economy between $106 – $238 billion each year.[i] To help address this issue within eye health, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has redesigned its patient education materials to enhance patient readability and understanding. The materials are being launched at AAO 2014, the Academy's 118th annual meeting in Chicago this week.

    Traditionally, most patient education materials are written at or above a 10th-grade reading level, yet nearly half of U.S. adults have trouble understanding and acting on information that is written above an 8th-grade level, and only 12 percent have proficient health literacy.[ii] The Academy's new patient education materials meet the health literacy standards used by the Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and National Institutes of Health, which require materials to be between 5th- and 8th-grade reading levels. In addition to this plain-language overhaul, the text font used is specifically designed for readers with low vision. The collection includes brochures, booklets and downloadable handouts that cover the entire spectrum of eye health. Many of these materials are also available in Spanish.

    "Physicians understand that medical information can be very overwhelming for patients and they forget most of what you tell them during a consultation," said Devin Harrison, M.D., an ophthalmologist and chair of the Academy's Patient Education Committee. "Patients who have a better understanding of their medical condition and rationale for treatment are more likely to comply with the treatment. By reaching them on a level that is easy to grasp, we can better manage patient expectations and improve clinical outcomes."

    This is the latest in the Academy's efforts to help physicians increase patient compliance through a suite of materials designed to support a stronger, simplified, and more standardized patient education and informed consent process. The Academy has also recently developed a collection of informed consent videos focusing on retina-related conditions and procedures to help educate and inform patients. Research has shown that video-based informed consent processes are more effective in building patient comprehension than the traditional method of verbal informed consent.[iii]

    The entire new line of patient education materials, as well as the collection of retina-related informed consent videos, is available for purchase on the Academy's website at https://www.aao.org/store. Both sets of educational materials were developed in consultation with the Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company.

    More than 25,000 attendees and 620 companies from 123 countries gather each year to showcase the latest in ophthalmic education, research and technology. To learn more about the place Where All of Ophthalmology Meets, visit https://www.aao.org/meetings/annual_meeting/.

    About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
    The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, serving more than 32,000 members worldwide. The Academy's mission is to advance the lifelong learning and professional interests of ophthalmologists to ensure that the public can obtain the best possible eye care. For more information, visit www.aao.org. 

    The Academy is also a leading provider of eye care information to the public. The Academy's EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit EyeSmart or OjosSanos to learn more.

    [i] http://hsrc.himmelfarb.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1173&context=sphhs_policy_facpubs

    [ii] http://www.health.gov/communication/literacy/issuebrief/

    [iii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15944633