Myth or Fact: Coinsurance and copayment and are the same thing.
Yes or No: You should seek treatment from an emergency care center when you have an earache.
These are just a few examples of how commonly used healthcare terms greatly confuse consumers. On December 1st, 2014, the students in Dr. Hu’s New Media and Health Communication class demystified the eight most misunderstood healthcare terms by using innovative communication strategies for stronger comprehension from the public. Specifically, the class created context-based scenarios to illustrate the terms and utilized new ways of communication to deliver the messages such as infographics, cartoon videos, and fun trivia quizzes. It is important that people of different levels of health literacy understand the definition of a healthcare term. Therefore, user testing was required in order to put each student’s theory and ideas into practice.
This team project was designed to join Digital Strategy Yoga LLC, a local startup company specializing in strategy consulting for healthcare and life sciences industry. The Managing Principal, Mr. Kalyan Narayanan, praised the students for taking on the challenge of clarifying complex healthcare terms and finding their way into the healthcare system. “The final presentation amplified their effort in doing research on healthcare terminology, audience analysis, new media and communication techniques, and younger generational views on healthcare,” Mr. Narayanan said.
The class was fortunate to have two healthcare industry professionals visiting on the final presentation day, Mr. Eddie Stewart, the Director of Talent Acquisitions at Johnson & Johnson, and Ms. Tyesha Pichardo, the Community Health Marketing and Communications Manager at Horizon. After the group presentations, Mr. Stewart and Ms. Pichardo shared their feedback with the class. Ms. Pichardo was captivated by each group’s ability to touch upon all of the challenges and barriers of healthcare literacy
in their presentations. As a professional, she personally goes out into the community so that she can see what people are physically experiencing and to act as the eyes and ears for the common citizen.
Ms. Pichardo reiterated the importance of health literacy because many people do not realize what wide disparities exist among health literacies. Anything Horizon writes about healthcare is on a 5th grade reading level and she admits some people only have a 1st grade reading level. Overall, she applauds Dr. Hu’s ability to get students involved in healthcare, which is a main goal for Horizon. She ended by stating, “If I could, I would have all of you working on my team.”
Mr. Stewart loved the fact that the project required user testing because it really matters how you put things together, depending on what audience you want to reach. He believed that targeting messages via proper technologies to a particular audience is a skill Communication Studies Majors must master, especially in projects like these. In the end, Mr. Stewart expressed how impressed he was with the class’ ability to use innovative communication strategies to reach audiences ranging from children to the elderly.
Health communication is a flourishing field, and interest in the usage of technology in health and healthcare delivery continues to increase. Dr. Hu’s New Media and Health Communication class read and critiqued cutting-edge research and analyzing case studies regarding new media and emerging technologies in a wide variety of health communication contexts. In addition, the class gained hands-on experience by tackling real-world healthcare problems through this industry-academic integration program during the fall semester. Similar initiatives will be explored in the future.
Yifeng Hu Ph.D.