Friday, August 18, 2017

Basic Technical Skills Needed to Become Health Literate

Hardly a day goes by when I don't see, hear or read something about the need to increase health literacy of patients and healthcare consumers. There's almost always some mention of basic technical skills required to even begin to gain a level of healthcare literacy. Practically speaking, increasing literacy about any subject – whether it's health, literacy, healthcare literacy, literacy about personal finance or anything for that matter – demands a basic level of technical skills.

Moreover, as print media and traditional approaches to education and training give way to new technology-based methods, it's more important than ever to obtain a basic level of proficiency using personal computers, tablets and smartphones to further the opportunity to improve health literacy.

What Basic Technical Skills Are Needed?

Here are some of the basic technical skills I believe are needed to become literate on any topic in today’s world.


1. Understand basic input methods including traditional keyboarding, “swype-ing,” touch screens and voice to text

2. Navigate file folders, create new folders and storage location's

3. Download files to specific folders

Here's some lesson modules covering basic computer skills. And one other set of online courses that I recommend.

Accessing, Reading and Creating Documents

Create, read, edit (when appropriate) and save documents in popular formats including:

1. Word processing (doc/docx file types. i.e. Microsoft Wor\

2. Spreadsheets (xls/xlsx file types. i.e. Microsoft Excel)

People largely need the ability to navigate around a spreadsheet and perhaps add data to a spreadsheet (or online form), not necessarily have the ability to create and format a spreadsheet

3. Presentations (ppt/pptx files types. i.e. Powerpoint)

The ability to view presentations is essential

4. Finished documents (PDF. i.e. Adobe PDF)

People will primarily need the capacity to read and save PDFs

Navigate Online (i.e. The Internet)

Navigating online and being able to access information is critical. 

1. Recognize, understand and use hyperlinks (aka URLs)

2. Recognize and use email addresses and various social media handles – like @ShimCode

3. Use a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing, or Yahoo)

4. Bookmarking information

Here are some online courses on navigating the internet that I recommend.

Communicate & Share Online

Besides being able to navigate the internet, locate and access information, it's important to be able to share information with others. Here are some basic skills in this area:

1. Via email

2. Via instant messaging or chat

3. Via web uploads

4. Commenting on blog posts and articles

5. Via social media accounts

Participate in Online Activities

More and more information is becoming available online in various, “rich formats” - often presented in an interactive way customized to specific end user needs. Nowadays, becoming more literate means being able to attend or participate in:

1. Webinars

2. Video conferences – live streamed and pre-recorded

3. Tweet Chats

Here's some information on How to Participate in a Tweetchat

What Else?

Health literacy and healthcare literacy are important. What other other skills, technical or otherwise - are needed to become health literate? 

Check out this collection of articles, blog posts, tips and ideas about Health Literacy. Consider subscribing to this blog (See 'Subscribe via email" on right side of this page) and following me on Twitter where I share as @ShimCode.

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