A $1.4 million grant will enable the creation of a free online tool that simplifies healthcare related text, making communication from a person’s doctor or medical team easier to understand, according to a news release from the management information systems department of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.
The college’s management information systems department received the four-year grant from the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 12% of American adults have proficient health literacy, meaning they may lack the skills they need to manage their health. The effort to simplify text is designed to address the need for patient understanding. “When you’re diagnosed with a serious disease, you are vulnerable,” Gondy Leroy, grant principal investigator and associate professor, in the management information systems department, said in the release. “This is partially due to not understanding all relevant information, a problem we can solve with today’s technology. We need to increase people’s understanding so they’re empowered to make proper decisions about their healthcare.”
Leroy is heading a multidisciplinary research team tasked with increasing health literacy by creating an online writing support tool for medical professionals. Similar to popular editing software, the tool will provide suggestions for replacing difficult terminology, improving awkward expressions and tuning the flow and structure of the information to make it more understandable for those with little background knowledge on the topic. The tool that will be tested through comprehensive user studies to ensure it increases understanding among patients. It will be available in both English and Spanish and is slated to be complete by the end of 2019. Earlier, less sophisticated versions may be made available sooner.
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