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Time to vote for the best comment on employee health literacy in Martha’s Vineyard contest

Do you know whether heartburn pills are safe for long-term use?

Dear TheySaidWhat Nation,

OK, so you didn’t win a Quizzify health-and-wellness trivia contest in 2018, so you aren’t going to be vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard this summer (at least, not on my nickel).

However, you can still vote on other people’s comments on the importance of employee health literacy and help one of them win the trip. Comments to their comments earn 3 points and likes to their comments earn one point.

Here are some samples:

As a physician, myself, I believe patients would be astounded how many decisions most doctors make based upon their own experience (aka anecdote) rather than controlled, well-designed scientific study. Worse yet, a health illiterate consumer risks their own life like the 51 year-old man in the 2017 article, “When Evidence Says No, But Doctors Say Yes” by writer David Epstein. In smaller but daily health interactions, patients abdicate important decisions about the medications and treatments they choose without understanding ‘number needed to treat’ vs. ‘number needed to harm’ statistics.

I understand how uncomfortable it can be to be a skeptical consumer especially when there is a large asymmetry in the level of knowledge between the provider and patient.  Personally, I spend more time teaching my patients about their conditions than operating on them and additionally  I applaud any and all efforts that individuals, employers, and third parties take to educate themselves in my domain.   I propose that there is no fix, there is no marketplace, there is no way to sustainably reduce cost and improve care until utilizers of healthcare take ownership of their own health and health literacy.

An educated patient, able to participate in decision making, is leading to cost reduction in medical service , to a more efficient  and sustainable healing act for the patients.

Several sound more like me than I do:

I am going to answer from a personal, not professional perspective. Growing up, my family and myself worked for doctors and hospitals, but were not trained medical professionals. With that background, I learned that most people took medical professionals at face value, giving them Total Control over health care decisions, rarely if ever questioning whether they needed a test, surgery, medicine, etc. Thankfully, my perspective was that they were people just like us with faults, and mistakes. I never learned to take at face value and have questioned these professionals at every opportunity. Unfortunately, I think I am the exception, not the rule.

Only by educating people on the ability to question, challenge, ask for another opinion, can we hope to change the direction of health care, and put the patient at the forefront. with the advent of HSA’s and HDHP’s we are asking patients to make critical care decisions, without the tools to do so.


Imagine being dropped in a foreign country with no fluency in the language, culture, or environment around you. And your very livelihood depends on how you navigate. This is what millions of Americans are faced with when stepping foot inside the healthcare system. They start with little to no knowledge on what just might be one of the costliest trips of their lifetime. That’s why proactive employee education – literacy – is a key fix. We (advisors and employers) must empower employees for the trip so they don’t get lost; physically or financially. The reality is that care providers are relied upon almost entirely for the journey. That solely makes the provider and the patient vulnerable to the abuses of unnecessary diagnoses, treatments and costs. To improve employees’ knowledge of how to use healthcare while also how to avoid having to use it by being healthier is to make them fluent. That will be an integral part of solving the problems that plague American healthcare.

One contestant is even tugging at the heartstrings of potential voters by adding a picture of his dog. I don’t know which I am more impressed by: his campaign strategy or his knowing how to add a picture to a linkedin comment:

While healthcare can be frustrating and slow to change, there is hope. Health literacy, especially with Quizzify, is fun, awesome, something we all need regular doses of.  Puppies are great too. Puppies and health literacy, both apolitical but totally cool. This is Musti (MOO-sti. It means “blacky” in Finnish).

Many share personal perspectives as well as professional ones:

Does Health Literacy Matter?  To me it does. I find that as a health insurance broker and as an advocate of my own family it is just as important to understand basic information as it is to find a way to implement this knowledge.  As a health insurance broker, I find myself hearing from mothers and caretakers stating that they find themselves at doctor’s offices making life changing decisions for their family in a split second with little to no time to research.  Most consumers value and lean on healthcare providers to have the most up to date resources at hand and it has been shown in study after study that lack of health literacy results in poor health outcomes for patients and a source of shame and confusion for their caregiver.

Once again, to vote, read the article and look for the brief essays (comments) that you like, and re-comment or share or like.

In the immortal words of the great philosopher Pat Benatar, hit me with your best shot.

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