A proposed 'health literate care model' would constitute a systems approach to improving patients' engagement in care

Health Aff (Millwood). 2013 Feb;32(2):357-67. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2012.1205.


Improving health outcomes relies on patients' full engagement in prevention, decision-making, and self-management activities. Health literacy, or people's ability to obtain, process, communicate, and understand basic health information and services, is essential to those actions. Yet relatively few Americans are proficient in understanding and acting on available health information. We propose a Health Literate Care Model that would weave health literacy strategies into the widely adopted Care Model (formerly known as the Chronic Care Model). Our model calls for first approaching all patients with the assumption that they are at risk of not understanding their health conditions or how to deal with them, and then subsequently confirming and ensuring patients' understanding. For health care organizations adopting our model, health literacy would then become an organizational value infused into all aspects of planning and operations, including self-management support, delivery system design, shared decision-making support, clinical information systems to track and plan patient care, and helping patients access community resources. We also propose a measurement framework to track the impact of the new Health Literate Care Model on patient outcomes and quality of care.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Health Information Systems / organization & administration
  • Health Literacy / methods*
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Models, Organizational
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration
  • Patient Participation / methods*
  • Quality of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Self Care / methods