The Weekly Roundup: Improving Patient Comprehension (11.30.18)

November 30, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg

In the only literacy study of its kind, published just over a decade ago, health practitioners learned that more than a third of U.S. adults would have difficulty understanding basic health instructions. Since then, there has developed a plethora of literature around improving patient comprehension. One of the key ways to improve that communication is by simplifying your word choiceUsing analogies to explain complex phenomena helps bridge the gap, too. This study identified some tools to consider when screening for health literacy among your patients. (Boston University has a simple four-question downloadable form to use to assess patient comprehension.) That communications gap is obviously even more challenging when patients have limited proficiency in the provider’s native language. The implications are immense both at the pharmacy counter and in other healthcare settings, like transitions in care, where patients with limited English proficiency experience longer hospital stays and more readmissions. Check out these approaches to better counsel such patients in the pharmacy.  

Here are a few other stories that might be of interest:

  • Need a little year-end pick-me-up? Overall pharmacist employment (and salaries) are on the rise. According to this 2017 industry report, the trend toward employment in hospital pharmacies continues, a shift the author attributes to increases in specialty pharmacy.
  • Sitting is apparently not the new smoking. Since pharmacists are among the original standing-desk jockeys, we thought you’d be interested in seeing this fad (possibly) begin its demise
  • Natural healing? I wonder how the PBMs would get their cut of this prescription.  
  • Pharmacists are making the “nice list.” More doctors are collaborating with pharmacists for better patient care. 
  • Can you hear me now? NPCA is backing CMS on several aspects of new proposed pricing rule. 
  • Forty-five minutes a day for the body of a 20-year old? Not quite, but maybe this new study will inspire your older patients to get more active. 


[Editor’s note:] Our inboxes are stuffed with newsletters and our coffee tables stacked with magazines and industry digests. I’m sure yours are, too. So, we’ve decided to run a weekly sampling of interesting stories, issues coverage, and business ideas we come across each week. We hope you’ll share some of your favorites, too. Drop us a line at

Pamela Youngberg

Before she came to Smart-Fill, Pamela developed marketing strategy and content for a range of technology start-ups and large-cap enterprises. Outside the office, she's into cycling, renaissance history, cooking, and exploring the outdoors in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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