Health literacy is being able to obtain, understand and use basic health information to navigate health services and make appropriate health decisions. Health literacy is the foundation of consumer engagement. It is the responsibility of the health care professional to present health information in a way that a person can understand. There are a number of tools and techniques to improve health literacy. These contribute to achieving equitable outcomes.

Let's PLAN for better care

Let’s PLAN for better care is a health literacy initiative to help consumers prepare well for their visit to the GP or other primary care health professional. It encourages people to plan ahead for practice visits and to ask questions when there so they fully understand their diagnosis and treatment. It also suggests questions they can ask pharmacy staff when they pick up their medicine. This resource is also available in Chinese, Hindi, Māori, and Samoan.

View Let's PLAN for better care.

Three steps to better health literacy: a guide for health care professionals

This resource for health professionals takes health professionals through a three-step process:

  1. Find out what people know.
  2. Build health literacy skills and knowledge.
  3. Check you were clear (and if not, go back to step 2).

View Three steps to better health literacy: a guide for health care professionals.

Communicating so people will understand

This poster for health professionals provides simple techniques for talking with people about their health or medicines.

Download the poster (263KB, pdf)

Medication ‘one steps’

These resources are intended to:

  • check some aspect of the safety system for a high-risk medicine in any area of work, whether on a ward, across a whole hospital or other care setting
  • stimulate discussion about the system and what changes could be made to reduce the risk of harm from those medicines.

Read the medication 'one steps'.

External resources

Choosing Wisely

The campaign aims to promote a culture where low value and inappropriate clinical interventions are avoided, and patients and health professionals have well-informed conversations around their treatment options, leading to better decisions and outcomes.

Visit the Choosing Wisely website

Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Communication strategies at GP level from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (484KB, pdf).

Last updated 30/10/2019