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Why Should The Healthcare Industry Use Readability Formulas?

Why Should The Healthcare Industry Use Readability Formulas?
The Healthcare Industry is paramount to any nation’s economy. A vibrant healthcare industry ensures a healthy nation, and ensures a flourishing lifestyle for its citizens. It is vital to adopt simple modes of communications between healthcare professionals and their patients. One such way to improve communications in healthcare is by using readability formulas on documents as a means to communicate effectively with staff, patients, and healthcare suppliers.

Using readability formulas in the healthcare industry offers many benefits, such as:

1. Readability formulas ensure healthcare employees can read and understand documentation and instruction manuals of medical equipments, such as X-ray machines, ultrasound machines, dental chairs, etc. Readable manuals ensure healthcare employees can:

(a) properly install medical equipment without technical error arising out of an installation problem; and

(b) use medical equipment according to instruction to avoid wrong diagnosis due to mishandling the equipment.

Ideally, most healthcare manuals should be written at a fifth or sixth grade reading level. Studies show that most Americans read at a fifth or sixth grade reading level.

2. Readability formulas can improve patient education and awareness. Patients need to understand their ailments, prescribed drugs, risks and side effects of the drugs, clinical tests, when to contact their doctors, when to seek immediate medical attention, and so on. All of this is accomplished by communicating with the patient through written communications, verbal instructions, multimedia, etc. Many patients need written instructions for long-term reference, and they need to understand their healthcare material in simple terms. Using readability formulas can help hospitals prepare documentation that patients can read and understand at their reading-level.

3. Studies show certain revealing facts. For instance, adults with low literacy skills: a) have a poorer health status; b) their average health costs are six times higher; c) they are less likely to comply with medication regimens; and d) they are less likely to understand their illnesses. These results show that patients are more vulnerable to grave dangers when we consider serious ailments like diabetes, heart disorder, asthma, cancer, and nerves-related sickness, etc. Many hospitals use the SMOG Readability Formula on their written health material to preempt these risks and help healthcare professionals develop user-friendly readable text. Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Readability Formulas are also useful in writing and simplifying healthcare material.

4. For overall effective disease management, it is vital the doctor-patient-pharmacist communication is as clear as possible. If the written text is beyond the reading abilities of the patient, he cannot understand the measures he needs to take to manage his disease. If the pharmacist can’t understand the prescription from a doctor, there’s every chance the pharmacist could give a wrong medication to the patient. Readability formulas can help health professionals prevent such unfortunate events.

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