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Children’s health system prepares teenagers to navigate health care system
Nemours Children’s Health System has launched a new national campaign to spread the use of its adolescent health literacy curriculum. The program, Navigating the Health Care System, prepares teens to be engaged, educated, and empowered in own healthcare. Early testing of the curriculum among more than 870 teenagers in three states showed significant improvement in their understanding of the healthcare system with an average improvement of 16 percentage points in test scores after the course.
"When a patient knows how to navigate the health care system, has considered the questions that they want to ask during their appointments, and can actively engage in their care, health care providers can focus on providing exactly the care their patients need and want, how and when they need and want it," said Allison Gertel-Rosenberg, operational vice president of practice and prevention at Nemours Children’s Health System. "We know that as health literacy increases, people are more likely to seek preventive services and enter the health system healthier, have lower rates of preventable hospital and emergency department visits, resulting in lower overall healthcare costs, and are less likely to report poor health."
Nemours Health and Prevention Services (NHPS) designed the curriculum to address national and state education standards and began piloting the course in 2014 in collaboration with schools and other community sites in Delaware. In 2017, the Nemours National Office of Policy and Prevention began working with NHPS to spread the curriculum beyond Delaware, providing free materials, training, and assistance to schools interested in implementing the curriculum.
In the pilot phase of the national expansion, students from three states (Wisconsin, Illinois, and Texas) participated in the four-module course that covers understanding of primary and specialty care, insurance, family history, logistics of medical visits, and more. Pre- and post-course testing was used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the course in providing the information through helpful and appropriate tools, including student workbooks, PowerPoint presentations, group activities, and videos. Students’ scores rose from an average pre-course score of 65 percent correct to an average score of 81 percent post-course score.
"Even though many of the emerging young adults who participate in this curriculum may never enter a Nemours care setting, these skills and knowledge are critical to help this generation of children grow up healthy, and transition into adulthood," said Gertel-Rosenberg.
Throughout the next year, Nemours plans to spread and scale the course in new states. School districts, communities and others interested in implementing the curriculum can contact NTHCS@nemours.org to learn more about initiating the course.