Professor’s first trip to Australia to share health literacy insights

Professor Michael Paasche-Orlow will discuss the role of health literacy in health outcomes at Westmead Hospital.

Michael Paasche-Orlow, a professor of medicine at Boston University’s School of Medicine, will soon be dropping into western Sydney to share his insights at the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Health Literacy Conference.

As an internationally recognised expert in the field of health literacy, Dr. Paasche-Orlow is currently co-investigator on several health literacy-related research grants, including two intervention studies evaluating simplified information technologies for behavioral change among minority patients with a range of health literacy levels. 

Dr Paasche-Orlow’s work has put the lime-light on the role of health literacy in racial and ethnic disparities, self-care for patients with chronic diseases and end-of life decision making among other projects.

Passionate about the important of health literacy, Prof Paasche-Orlow has dedicated his career to giving patients a voice.

“I have seen firsthand that health literacy is a critical tool for patient empowerment and is a key to eliminating health disparities,” he said.

He says there is a need for healthcare staff to listen more.

“Talk to patients and hear what they are thinking and you will find ways to have honest interactions about what is hard for them and for their families,” Dr Paasche-Orlow said. 

“This can help empower not only this patient, but can also help us design systems that make health care and public health easier for everyone.

“Health care professional have a tremendous amount of power, but they have to find a way to share this power with patients.  Health literacy is a way.

Put simply, he explains health literacy as, “Finding ways to make health care easier for people and their families.”

“When doctors stop being teachers they have lost their way.  Literally, ‘docere’ in Latin means ‘to teach’.  Health care professionals must dare to teach!” 

These words of wisdom will be elaborated on at the WSLHD Health Literacy conference on December 3, in Parramatta, where Prof Paasche-Orlow will join other international and national experts to share knowledge, experiences and best practice in health literacy.

Care Transitions to reduce 30 day hospital readmissions; Advance Care Planning Decision Aids to improve end of life care; Automated phone systems to improve medication safety; and the use of Computer Avatars to improve quality of life are some of the topics Prof Paasche-Orlow will present on during the conference.

Project RED is a re-engineered discharge initiative started at Boston Medical Centre. The program centres on the promotion of health literacy among patients to reduce hospital readmissions. Training in the program has since been rolled out across 500 other hospitals across the United States (this project is not the same as that at Blacktown Hospital).

The findings from two trials involving automated phone systems to improve medication safety, as well as computer avatars to improve quality of life will also be covered by Prof Paasche-Orlow.

WSLHD is honored to have Prof Paasche-Orlow present at the health literacy conference for healthcare professionals.  

“I have never been to Australia! I’m very excited,” he said. 

 Details of the conference are as follows:

Improving health literacy in health systems, partnering with consumers and clinicians

When: Monday 3 December 2018, 8:30am – 4:30pm

Where: The Park Royal Hotel, 30 Phillip street, Parramatta, Sydney, Australia, map

Parking: On-site self-parking is available at The Park Royal for a flat rate of $15 per day

RSVP: Please register by 30 November 2018

Enquiries: Dana Mouwad