Regional Collaborations in Health Literacy
Many states face the same health literacy challenges. Collaborations across state lines allow organizations to share ideas, information and resources. HHS Regional Health Administrator Captain Jose Belardo is helping the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska (HHS Region 7) find ways to support each other’s work.
Representatives from the health literacy organizations in Region 7 began conference calls in August 2011.The group discussed each state’s health literacy conferences and a regional collaboration that could include the following activities.
- Organizing a webinar for key stakeholders in each state to share ideas, and explore collaborative opportunities
- Organizing a larger regional meeting to share promising practices
- Keeping regular contact through email and conference calls
- Selecting Healthy People 2020 objectives to focus the health literacy work
- Developing a speakers’ bureau and web site support
Members of several state health literacy projects (Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas and Nebraska) discussed "Regional Health Literacy Initiatives" at the April 13-14, 2012 Health Literacy Iowa meeting. Dr. Mary Ann Abrams (Iowa) adds, "We had a wonderful regional panel discussion, sharing highlights of each state’s unique experience and perspective. Building on and learning from others’ strengths, insights, and experiences while tailoring what you do to your geographic setting is key to progress."
Each state is at a different stage in its growth as an organization, and each group also has different roots, thus the experiences are different and valuable to the others. For example, each has a large rural constituency, but very different urban populations.
"Regional connections are extremely important to Health Literacy Missouri (HLM)," said Dr. Catina O'Leary, HLM president and CEO. "Each statewide health literacy organization brings its own unique experiences and expertise that others can draw upon. That support and shared information is unique and essential as we all forge our way as pioneers in this important field.