Health Literacy.

Health Literacy San Diego

The challenge of low-health literacy results in communication breakdowns that affect the healthcare of patients and the ability of healthcare providers to serve them. These breakdowns put patients at risk and increase the cost of health services for all. To address this challenge, Health Literacy San Diego (HLSD), a project of Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP) and the San Diego Council on Literacy (SDCOL,) is taking a leadership role in addressing low health literacy in the San Diego Region.

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the skills and context needed to obtain and understand basic health information and use services that help them make appropriate health decisions. Patient literacy abilities, language, age and culture affect how they function using the healthcare system, and how the system fully communicates with patients about their conditions, therapy, and medications.

A new report was released in 2016, Health Literacy San Diego report, Improving Health Communications: A Collaborative Plan to Address Health Literacy in San Diego County, updates the 2007 health literacy report, When Words Get in the Way: A Collaborative Plan to Address Health Literacy in San Diego County.

“This updated report provides recommendations to improve health communications from both the provider and patient perspective, which will ultimately make an impact on overall health outcomes,” said Kristin Garrett Montgomery, former CEO of CHIP. “It also provides a review of recent major federal policy initiatives for improving health literacy and innovations and promising practices being used by providers and health care systems to address health literacy.”

Jose Cruz, CEO of the San Diego Council on Literacy adds that, “Our work is helping healthcare providers and patients close the gap that occurs when the culture of healthcare systems meet the cultures of the patients, the language of the healthcare system meets the languages of the patients, and the literature from healthcare providers meet the literacy abilities of the patients.”

Currently, HLSD is providing training to healthcare providers to increase their awareness about the challenge of low health literacy to show them how they can make service adjustments that improve communications with patients, especially those who are elderly, who do not read at a basic level, or who speak English as a second language.

HLSD is also promoting a curriculum that is being used by literacy programs and adult educators to equip patients with the tools that they need to navigate healthcare options and services.

About Community Health Improvement Partners

Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP,) a San Diego non-profit organization with the mission of advancing long-term solutions to priority health needs through collaboration and community engagement. CHIP focuses on bringing partners together to tackle relevant and pressing health issues. Other CHIP programs include the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative, Suicide Prevention Council, Resident Leadership Academy, Independent Living Association, Lemon Grove HEAL Zone, and REACH Chula Vista. For more information, visit

About Health Literacy San Diego
Health Literacy San Diego is a joint effort of Community Health Improvement Partners and the San Diego Council on Literacy with the mission to improve healthcare communication by addressing literacy abilities, language barriers and cultural differences. For more information, visit or contact Emilie Dang at or 858.609.7966.