Wishing the PIF community all the very best for 2021.
And while we head into 2021 with renewed hope and optimism, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the year just gone; to look at what we achieved and what we learnt, much of which we already knew but perhaps didn’t fully appreciate.
It certainly reinforced for me the power of community and how when we come together, we are so much stronger.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, the PIF community, for your support and engagement in helping to get several key initiatives off the ground last year, despite the challenges we all faced.
Finding credible healthcare information
In May we launched the PIF TICK and we now have more than 50 members signed up, which is a resounding endorsement of the value you place on having a quality mark for trustworthy health information, to give your communities and the wider public confidence in your resources.
Now more than ever people need to know that they are accessing content which is accurate, up to date and evidence based and the PIF TICK provides that reassurance.
The COVID-19 crisis has shown how easy it is for unreliable and untrustworthy information to make it into mainstream and social media.
In July, with your support, we published the COVID Choices Report, which explored the challenges people with long term conditions were facing in accessing healthcare.
A lack of trustworthy information and conflicting guidance emerged as the key concern and barrier to seeking appropriate medical help, even greater than age, gender or an underlying health condition.
The current pandemic has reinforced how vital it is for everyone to have access to accurate, evidence based, up to date and culturally appropriate information for their safety and their lives.
Ensuring information is inclusive and does not reinforce health inequalities is essential.
A charter to tackle inequality
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed existing health inequalities, hitting disadvantaged communities hardest and emphasised the link between low health literacy, digital literacy and health inequality.
This is why PIF is calling for all health information providers to sign up to a Health and Digital Literacy Charter and we are delighted more than 50 organisations have already made this commitment.
The call to sign the charter followed the publication in November of PIF’s Health and Digital Literacy Survey results, which found that the gap between skills and the complexity of health information is leaving millions excluded from making informed decisions about their health.
Progress has been made since PIF last conducted the survey in 2013 with 60% of organisations providing information for those with low literacy or numeracy compared to 35% in 2013 and 58% are providing information for BAME groups, compared to 39% in 2013.
However, there is more work to be done with only 13% of respondents saying their organisation had a health literacy strategy in place. This represented little progress from 10% in 2013.
If we are serious about tackling the health inequalities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic, then it is important for all organisations producing health information to become health and digital literacy friendly.
In 2021 we need your help to get the message out there that trustworthy health information is a cornerstone of patient and citizen participation in their care delivery.
Moreover, as the current pandemic shows, it is key to protecting both personal and collective health.
At PIF we will strive to improve the quality of available health information and to eliminate the health- and digital-literacy gap.