The Key To an Informed Membership: Clear Communication

We know that our members want to be kept up-to-date on health matters. Education, after all, has been an essential part of our mission at the CO-OP from the very beginning.

So when new information on medical research, health news or other matters arises that affect our members, you will be the first to know. Take, for instance, the importance of clear communication in health care.

Recently, as “Director of Engagement” at Oregon’s Health CO-OP, I had the chance to talk with CO-OP staff about engaging our members.  One of the concerns is how we as a team can best work together so members clearly understand their health issues? How do we communicate in language that is not “medical-speak”? In health literacy circles this is called “Clear Communication”.

To achieve such a worthy goal, we’ve taken steps such as:

  • Reviewing CO-OP member materials and eliminating “jargon” whenever possible
  • Translating key documents into Spanish for Spanish-speaking members
  • Training the CO-OP’s frontline customer service reps (CSRs) who talk to members every day about the importance of health literacy
  • And ensuring our benefits are simple and easy-to-understand.

Every member in the CO-OP has the right to understand their benefits, and removing the mystery around health insurance benefits is also a piece of health literacy.

Oregon’s Health CO-OP isn’t alone in its focus on clear communication. Legacy Health System is a regional leader promoting efforts to address health literacy, and a recent story on NPR’s “All Things Considered” informs us about other members of the medical community around the country who are working diligently on this key issue as well. Listen to the story here.

Every day, I am committed to the fact that our membership is at the center of our universe. If they don’t grasp what we are talking about because we aren’t clear, we have failed… at the CO-OP we say WE DARE TO LISTEN… AND WE DARE TO SPEAK SIMPLY

Let us know how you feel. Please share your thoughts and comments.