Learning Self-Advocacy Skills to Navigate the Health Care System

By Beverly Doolan and Ashley Conley

Using video as a teaching medium is one way to reach low literacy audiences and to engage community members in a visual learning opportunity.  Developed by the Greater Nashua Public Health Region’s (GNPHR) Access to Health Care workgroup, the “My Health. My Care.”video series and toolkit provide simple tools for navigating healthcare systems.  The series was locally produced, and included participation from the area’s two acute care hospitals and other major medical providers, local public libraries, community members, United Way, Marketplace Assistance groups and other supportive service organizations
.   The project includes four 5-7 minute videos that discuss communicating with healthcare providers, insurance, billing, how to prepare for medical appointments and how to stay healthy. Healthcare providers from regional healthcare partners are featured in the videos. Educational materials were developed to accompany the videos including a brochure that highlights key concepts from the videos, templates for organizations that would like to hold a film screening and a health resources flier for the greater Nashua area.  The toolkit of all materials is available on the City of Nashua website so that other regions can use or adapt the materials for their area: http://bit.ly/MyHealthMyCare

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Community impact of the videos has been positive, as evidenced by participant responses to nine screening events held as part of the project’s distribution strategy.  For example, 98% of survey participants agreed the videos were easy to understand and 96% agreed the videos and materials showed options for what to do when they don’t understand a healthcare service or bill. 97% agreed that the videos provided suggestions to improve communications with healthcare providers.  A majority of participants indicated they learned new terms.   In encouraging viewers to connect with good resources for finding additional information, the series promotes use of local libraries as well as the NLM Medline Plus website.  Approximately 60% of surveyed participants were not aware of the Medline Plus website before watching the videos. 

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