AHRQ Health Literacy Tools for Use in Pharmacies
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has developed seven health literacy tools for pharmacy and a set of curricular tools for pharmacy faculty:
- Pharmacy Health Literacy Assessment Tool & User's Guide.
- Training Program for Pharmacy Staff on Communication.
- How To Create a My Medicines List.
- Telephone Reminder Tool To Help Refill Medicines On Time.
- Explicit and Standardized Prescription Medicine Instructions.
- How to Conduct a Postdischarge Followup Phone Call.
- Health literacy tools to improve communication for providers of medication therapy management.
This tool is a comprehensive guide to help pharmacies assess how well they are set up to serve patients with limited health literacy.
Why use this tool?
- See if you and your staff are meeting patient needs.
- Detect potential barriers for patients with limited literacy skills to comprehending pharmacy information.
- Identify opportunities to improve your customer service.
This tool consists of four parts:
- Part I: Assessment Tour of the Pharmacy.
- Part II: Pharmacy Staff Survey.
- Part III: Guide for Focus Groups With Patients.
- Part IV: Using Assessment Results.
Get started using this tool:
Pharmacy Health Literacy Assessment Tool User's Guide (PDF, 1.3 MB).
This training program is intended for pharmacy staff members who regularly interact with patients and provide patients with health information. The training program:
- Introduces pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and other pharmacy staff to the problem of low health literacy.
- Identifies implications of the problem.
- Explains techniques for pharmacy staff members to improve communication with patients who may have limited health literacy skills.
The training program includes: PowerPoint® slides, handouts, and notes for the trainer or presenter.
Strategies to Improve Communication Between Pharmacists and Patients: Curriculum Guide (PDF, 250 KB).
An automated telephone reminder system calls patients to remind them to refill their prescriptions and allows patients to order their refills on the phone. These systems can be difficult for patients with limited health literacy to use. This literacy-friendly telephone script is provided for use by pharmacies who want to provide automated refill reminder calls to patients to improve adherence with medication regimens.
Guide: Automated Telephone Reminders.
It can be hard to keep track of medicines. A My Medicines List can remind you when, how, and how much medicine to take. Here are step-by-step instructions to create a My Medicines List for yourself, a family member, a friend, or anyone you take care of.
Explicit, standardized instructions improve patients’ understanding, and possibly reduce errors while improving adherence. These tested instructions for pills follow the Universal Medication Schedule (UMS), which simplifies complex medicine regimens by using standard time periods for administration (morning, noon, evening, and bedtime). These instructions have also been translated into Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Calls to patients newly discharged from the hospital are becoming increasingly common. In the randomized control study of the Re-Engineered Discharge (RED), a pharmacist conducted these calls to review medicines, follow-up appointments, and home services. Tool 5 from the RED Toolkit describes how to prepare for and conduct the call, including call script, an example conversation, and a template for documenting the call.
Medication Therapy Management (MTM) is a patient-centric and comprehensive approach to improve medication use, reduce the risk of adverse events, and improve medication adherence. The following health literacy tools can improve communication with MTM patients.
The following links provide support specifically for the Pharmacy Health Literacy Assessment Tool and User's Guide:
Spanish Translation of Facilitator's Guide for Patient Focus Groups
A translated version of the Facilitator's Guide for Patient Focus Groups is available (PDF, 82 KB).
As part of the Pharmacy Health Literacy Center Web site, AHRQ is also providing a list of organizations that may be useful for pharmacists. The following organizations may be a good place to start for pharmacists interested in securing assistance or support in implementing the AHRQ tools.
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)
The over 100 U.S.-based colleges and schools of pharmacy may be helpful resources for pharmacists interested in identifying faculty members, pharmacy residents, or pharmacy students interested in health literacy or a research project, for example.
American Evaluation Association (AEA)
The American Evaluation Association is a professional association of evaluators, and has a Web site tool, "find an evaluator," that helps identify evaluators in each State. Pharmacists may be interested in hiring an evaluator to complete the Assessment Tool, for example.