February 25, 2010

Information Superhighway to Health!

Here at Bread for the City, health care isn't just about treatment. It's also about learning how to live healthier lifestyles. But it's impossible to learn everything there is to know in the space of a doctor's visit, so we work hard to help our clients learn how to educate themselves about health issues.

Fortunately, there is an incredible amount of information about health available today -- if you know how to find it. Unfortunately, most of our clients don't have access to the great source of this information: the internet. So we've begun to consider an additional step in the educational process: one of the most effective ways for our clients to become health literate is by becoming computer literate.

Dr. Randi Abramson, BFC's Medical Clinic Director, has recently initiated a long-term goal of hers: a computer literacy program. "Having access to health information empowers clients to understand and take control of their own disease," she says, "which is especially important when our clients feel so powerless in other areas of their life."

Understanding diseases like diabetes or hypertension dispels myths about them and allows patients to take control of their condition through means like diet and exercise, rather than simply accepting their disease as unavoidable and untreatable. We're pleased to announce that our new Computer & Health Education Class invites just such self-empowerment.

This new project has largely been made possible by George Washington University's Health Information Partners program, directed by Karyn Pomerantz. GW has supplied Bread for the City with a grant to fund the project and training for the instructors.

The first of these courses covers how to turn the machine on, navigate the operating system -- and even the basics like using a mouse. The next class teaches students how to log on to the internet and use web browsers. After that, students start investigating websites that can give them reliable information about various health topics. They explore user-friendly websites that don't require high literacy, like Healthy Roads Media, which features short videos on topics like "Smoking", which are viewable in many different languages. Students have also discussed the credibility of information on various sites, and gravitated towards dependable sites like Family Doctor.org.

This process opens a lot of doors for clients, not only empowering them to make educated life/health choices, but also to take advantage of the rest of what the internet provides: e-mail, news, jobs, entertainment, etc. Since many of our clients do not have internet access at home or work, this has been a very popular new program. Check back soon hear more about what clients are getting out of the class.

1 comment:

Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com said...

Computer literacy? Start with adult literacy. One third of Americans cannot read at the 7th grade level.