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J Gen Intern Med. 2012 May;27(5):588-94. doi: 10.1007/s11606-011-1964-6. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Can integrating health literacy into the patient-centered medical home help us weather the perfect storm?

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Group Health Research Institute, 1730 Minor Ave., Suite 1600, Seattle, WA 98101, USA.


Improving health literacy is one key to buoying our nation's troubled health care system. As system-level health literacy improvement strategies take the stage among national priorities for health care, the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model of care emerges as a compelling avenue for their widespread implementation. With a shared focus on effective communication and team-based care organized around patient needs, health literacy principles and the PCMH are well aligned. However, their synergy has received little attention, even as PCMH demonstration projects and health literacy interventions spring up nationwide. While many health literacy interventions are limited by their focus on a single point along the continuum of care, creating a "room" for health literacy within the PCMH may finally provide a multi-dimensional, system-level approach to tackling the full range of health literacy challenges. Increasing uptake coupled with federal support and financial incentives further boosts the model's potential for advancing health literacy. On the journey toward a revitalized health care system, integrating health literacy into the PCMH presents a promising opportunity that deserves consideration.

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