Health Literacy

Managing chronic health conditions can be difficult when patients have low health literacy. Navigating and understanding a complex health care system is challenging. With the right training, health care professionals can communicate with patients more appropriately depending on their health literacy level.2

What is Health Literacy?

The CDC has defined Health literacy as:

  1. Personal health literacy: the degree to which individuals can find, understand and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.1
  2. Organizational health literacy: the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.1

Health literacy is simply your ability to understand information about your body and health.5 Based on these definitions, people and organizations can use their health literacy skills to improve the health of their communities.1

Low Health Literacy Factors

Low health literacy leads to communication barriers between patients and their healthcare providers. It also results in a variety of negative health outcomes for patients.4 A few factors that lead to low health literacy are:

  • Education4
  • Age: on average, adults aged 65 and older have lower health literacy than adults under 65.4
  • Poverty4
  • Access to resources such as technology5
  • Language5
  • Culture5
  • Having a health condition that requires complex self-care.5

Why Health Literacy is Important

Understanding health information and services affects your health outcomes. Your level of health literacy determines your ability to navigate through the healthcare system, utilize preventative services and share your personal information with healthcare providers.5 Furthermore, having good health literacy skills enables you to:

  • Understand the choices you have about treatments, doctors and other items related to your condition.5
  • Stick to your treatment plan.5
  • Answer questions about your health conditions.5
  • Decide which services and options are best for you.5

Steps to Improve Your Health Literacy

If you would like to improve your health literacy:

  1. Ask questions: Do not be afraid to ask your healthcare professional questions. Explain that you are having a hard time understanding, they will be happy to help.5
  2. Ask for handouts: Handouts or other materials are helpful at explaining complicated information.5
  3. Do not believe everything that you read on the internet: Not all medical information websites are reviewed by experts. A good way to check if a website is reputable is to make sure the information is reviewed, confirmed and supported by different organizations.5
  4. Repeat what your doctor tells you in your own words: This will give you an opportunity to clarify anything that you misunderstood or discover anything you misheard.5

Tria Health & Health Literacy:

Tria Health is a no cost benefit available through select members’ health plans. Tria Health’s Pharmacy Advocate Program offers one-on-one, private consultations with a Tria Health Pharmacist. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities! Your pharmacist will work with you and your doctor(s) to ensure the intended outcomes from your medications are being received. Tria Health is here to help patients navigate their way through the multifaceted process of attaining care and properly utilizing their benefits. Our pharmacists take the time to make sure patients understand their conditions and how to effectively manage them.

Patient Success Story: Tria Triumph

Data does not lie; the real challenge lies when patients do not understand their data. Health literacy is key in this Tria Triumph.

A patient with diabetes had a consultation with one of our pharmacists. Her blood sugars were all over the place and she was feeling down. Our pharmacist uncovered that this patient was not taking her medications correctly and was also using an expired insulin pen. She did not completely understand her diagnosis, or the purpose of her medications.

Our pharmacist took the time to educate her on what diabetes is and how it affects her body. Additionally, our pharmacist recommended she talk with her doctor about an easier medication regimen.

Now this patient feels fantastic! Her doctor accepted the medication changes, and she is taking her medications as our pharmacist advised. Her blood sugar readings are excellent, and she feels better.

Because of the Tria Health program, this patient understands her diagnosis, knows how to effectively manage it and has the confidence to discuss outcomes with her providers.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. What Is Health Literacy? | Health Literacy | CDC
  2. Health Literacy | Official web site of the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (hrsa.gov)
  3. Health Literacy | National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  4. Health Literacy | Healthy People 2020
  5. Health Literacy: Why it’s Important and How to Improve it (breastcancer.org)

American Diabetes Association Alert Day

Image Source: Canva

American Diabetes Association Alert Day is observed annually on the fourth Tuesday in March. This day is dedicated to spreading awareness of type 2 diabetes and encouraging people to take the ADA risk test.1

Understand Your Risk

An important part of today is learning about the risk factors of diabetes. Being aware of your risk factors can help you take the right steps to improve your health. Take the American Diabetes Risk Test here: Risk Test | ADA (diabetes.org) This test asks questions about weight, age, family history and other potential risks for type 2 diabetes.2

Common risks include:

  • Being over the age of 451
  • Having a family history of diabetes1
  • Not being physically active1
  • High blood pressure4
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels4

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

Lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by implementing these lifestyle choices:

  • Eating healthier: choose foods higher in fiber and lower in fat (fruits, vegetables, whole grains).5
  • Physical activity: aerobic activity such as swimming, running, or a fast walk for about 150 or more minutes a week.5
  • Weight loss: If you have prediabetes, losing 7-10% of your body weight can reduce the risk of diabetes.5
  • Stop Smoking

Type 2 Diabetes Statistics

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. According to the CDC. Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90-95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in adults.6 Other key facts about diabetes include:

  • Diabetes affects about 34.2 million Americans.1
  • Nearly 1 in 5 adults living with diabetes, or 7.3 million Americans do not know that they have the disease.1
  • About 88 million people that are 18 years or older have prediabetes. Prediabetes happens when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not quite high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.1
  • About 50% of women that have gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that women develop when pregnant, end up developing type 2 diabetes.1

Tria Health & Diabetes Management

If you currently are diagnosed or have been recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Tria Health can assist you in managing your medications and finding a treatment plan that works for you. For select members, Tria Health also provides free diabetes testing supplies including a blood glucose meter, testing strips, and a mobile app designed to help you manage your diabetes better.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. Diabetes Alert Day | NIDDK (nih.gov)
  2. Stop Diabetes:
  3. American Diabetes Association Alert Day | A Complete Guide (lifeweknow.com)
  4. Understand Your Risk for Diabetes | American Heart Association
  5. Type 2 diabetes – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
  6. Type 2 Diabetes Statistics and Facts (healthline.com)

Pharmacist Spotlight: Austin Morgan

We have an excellent clinical team at Tria Health. This month, we would like to spotlight Austin Morgan! 

Specialty: Austin’s specialty as a clinical pharmacist is in chronic condition management. More specifically, he specializes in diabetes management. He loves working with people that have diabetes to help them understand their condition. He learns about his patients’ goals and helps to define them. Austin supports his patients by giving them the steps they need to manage their diabetes. These steps include self-management with lifestyle and monitoring to helping optimize medications and maximize outcomes. He watched his grandfather struggle with complications from type 2 diabetes and managing his medications growing up, so patient care holds a personal place in his heart.

Favorite parts about working at Tria Health: Austin has many things he enjoys about working at Tria Health! To highlight a few, he likes to get to know his patients and work with them. Additionally, he enjoys the incredible team of clinicians and support staff. He appreciates being in an environment that encourages collaboration and learning to stay on the cutting edge of chronic condition management.

Career Goals: He has been fortunate to check off a couple of bigger career goals by accomplishing his Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist as well as Board Certified Ambulatory Care Pharmacist credentials over the last couple of years. His next career goal is simply to continue growing as a compassionate, patient-centered clinical pharmacist to provide great care for his patients. Furthermore, he oversees our 4th year pharmacy students on their rotation at Tria Health, so he is focusing on further developing his precepting and teaching skills.

Outside of work, Austin enjoys outdoor activities such as running, hiking, skiing and playing slow-pitch softball with his church’s team. Also, he loves spending time with his wife, travelling and experiencing new places, and playing with their 2 black labs.

Health Effects of Obesity

Image Source via Pexels by Pixabay

An estimated 97 million adults in the United States are overweight or obese, a condition that raises the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions.1 To learn more about the health effects of obesity read below.

How is Obesity Defined?

Obesity is defined as weight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height.5 Obesity is now considered a chronic condition and puts people at risk for other chronic conditions.2 According to the CDC, medical costs for people with obesity are $1,429 higher than those that are not obese.3

The Health Effects of Obesity4

Obesity has an affect on so many parts of the body. People who have obesity are at an increased risk for serious diseases and health conditions such as:

  1. Nervous system: Being overweight greatly increases the risk of stroke and can also affect your mental health.
  2. Respiratory system: Breathing can become increasingly more difficult when fat is stored around the neck, making the airway too small. As a result, sleep apnea occurs. This is a sleep disorder where breathing may stop for short periods of time.
  3. Digestive system: Obesity increases the risk of developing gallstones, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Additionally, fat can build up around the liver and cause damage, scar tissue and even liver failure.
  4. Cardiovascular and endocrine system: The heart must pump harder for people that have obesity. This can lead to high blood pressure, the leading cause of stroke. Furthermore, obesity can make the body’s cells resistant to insulin. This increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  5. Skeletal and muscular systems: Obesity can cause deteriorating bone density and muscle mass. It can also put pressure on joints making them still and painful.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI) is used as a screening tool for obesity. BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. A higher BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness.5 To calculate your BMI, visit: Adult BMI Calculator | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity | CDC

Obesity is subdivided into categories:5

  • Class 1: BMI of 30 to < 35
  • Class 2: BMI of 35 to <40
  • Class 3: BMI of 40 or higher. This class is sometimes categorized as “severe” obesity.

How to Combat Obesity

  1. There are prescription medications for obesity. Make sure that you have at least a 30-day supply of your medications and are taking them as prescribed.6
  2. Eating a healthy diet can help support immune function. A healthy diet prevents and aids in managing other chronic conditions like diabetes.7
  3. Physical activity also supports immune function and helps with weight loss.7
  4. Getting enough sleep is crucial as insufficient sleep has been linked to other chronic conditions and obesity.7
  5. Coping with stress over time can lower BMI.7

Tria Health Can Help

For select groups, Tria Health offers a weight management service called Choose to Lose. If this structured weight loss program is included through your benefits plan, you can receive help from a combination of registered dietitians, health coaches and pharmacists, along the best-in-class nutrition tracker app ‘LoseIt!’ and a Bluetooth scale. This program is great at helping tackle the risks associated with obesity.

Tria Health is a no cost benefit available through select members’ health plans. Tria Health’s Pharmacy Advocate Program offers one-on-one, private consultations with a Tria Health Pharmacist. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities! Your pharmacist will work with you and your doctor(s) to ensure the intended outcomes from your medications are being received.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. ob_gdlns.pdf (nih.gov)
  2. Obesity Is Now Considered a Disease – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic
  3. Adult Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC
  4. The Effects of Obesity on Your Body (healthline.com)
  5. Defining Adult Overweight and Obesity | Overweight & Obesity | CDC
  6. Certain Medical Conditions and Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness | CDC
  7. Obesity, Race/Ethnicity, and COVID-19 | Overweight & Obesity | CDC

National Nutrition Month

Image Source: Ella Olsson/Unsplash

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

Key Goals for the Month2

  1. Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day.
  2. Plan your meals each week.
  3. Learn skills to create tasty meals.
  4. Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to develop a healthy eating plan.

How to Participate

If you want to start eating healthier, there are many ways to get involved in National Nutrition Month.

  • Find inspiration: If you are bored with your recipes, try out a new cookbook. Pinterest is also a great place to look to discover new healthy recipes.1
  • Add color: Put natural color on your plate such as bright greens from vegetables or reds from tangy fruit.1
  • Pack your lunch: According to Harvard Health Publishing, by packing your own lunch you can better control portion sizes.1
  • Meet with a Registered Dietician Nutritionist: They can provide you with a personalized meal plan that fits your lifestyle. 1
  • Physical activity: Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  • Keep it simple: Eating right does not have to be complicated.3
  • Select healthier options when eating away from home.3

Healthy Recipes

When we eat nourishing foods, we feel better. To celebrate National Nutrition Month, check out these 10 delicious healthy recipes: 10 Healthy Recipes To Celebrate National Nutrition Month | HuffPost Canada (huffingtonpost.ca)

Chronic Conditions and Nutrition

If you have a chronic condition, a carefully planned diet can make a difference. With certain diseases, what you eat may reduce symptoms. In other cases, diet can improve health. Although your diet might differ depending on your condition and lifestyle, there are three keys to a healthy eating plan that will work for diabetes, heart health, cancer prevention and weight management:

  • Eat meals and snacks regularly (at planned times).
  • Eat about the same amount of food at each meal or snack.
  • Choose healthful foods to support a healthy weight and heart.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH – March 2021 | National Today
  2. National Nutrition Month (eatright.org)
  3. National Nutrition Month Toolkit (eatright.org)