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Joint Commission Resources, Inc, an affiliate of the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, will sponsor a symposium titled "Health Literacy: The Foundation for Patient Safety, Empowerment, and Quality Health Care," to be held on June 26-27, 2006, in Rosemont, IL.


According to published reports, approximately half of all adults living in the US lack the literacy skills necessary to effectively navigate the healthcare system. Low health literacy- whether attributable to poor reading and language skills or low English proficiency-is so pervasive in this country that it presents a significant threat to patient safety.


Factor in the growing number of people who must manage one or more chronic health conditions, and the impact of low health literacy is potentially profound. Low health literacy is especially prominent among the elderly and minority Americans, exacerbating healthcare disparities. From a public health vantage point to every individual patient encounter, low health literacy-and the risks it entails-must be addressed, and its threats mitigated.


"Health Literacy: The Foundation for Patient Safety, Empowerment, and Quality Health Care" is one in a series of Joint Commission symposia addressing major public policy issues in healthcare. This symposium will frame the issues that surround low health literacy and will offer solutions that healthcare clinicians, managers, communicators, policymakers, and advocates can implement to ensure effective communications-the very bedrock of every patient encounter and public health goal.


The key topics to be addressed at the conference include the following:


* How low health literacy is linked to unsafe care and poor outcomes, increased costs, and inefficient care


* Strategies to ensure that patient-centered communications are used in every patient encounter and across the care continuum


* Tools and techniques that can be used to overcome the challenge of low health literacy when communicating complex medical information


* Models for achieving shared medical decision making and truly informed consent


* Strategies to address low health literacy in the care of people with chronic conditions


* The critical role cultural competency has in the delivery of high-quality, effective healthcare


* New methods for enhancing a patient's ability to navigate the healthcare setting and the "system"



For additional information on this symposium, or to register, visit the Web site,