Health IT Literacy Guide Evaluation


The (AHRQ) Health IT Portfolio offers more than 10,000 documents, presentations, articles, and tools to health information technology (IT) researchers, implementers, and policymakers. The National Resource Center of Health IT (NRC) Web site offers over 20 tools and resources to support health IT research and evaluation. The Health IT Literacy Guide has been available through the NRC since 2007.

More recently, AHRQ contracted with the Research Triangle Institute (RTI International) to evaluate this report. The report notes:

  • health literacy remains a significant challenge;
  • health information is increasingly accessed through health IT; and
  • an important aim is usable health IT for individuals with limited literacy.

The evaluation report summarized findings and presents recommendations based on an environmental scan, expert interviews, and focus groups conducted with the intended developers and purchasers of health IT, who are the intended audience of the Health IT Literacy Guide.

The four chapters of the report include:

  • Chapter 1: Background, context, and identification of the research questions;
  • Chapter 2: Summary of approach used in the evaluation;
  • Chapter 3: Summary of findings; and
  • Chapter 4: Recommendations based on research findings.

Key findings of the evaluation are:

  • developers and purchasers were largely unaware of the Guide;
  • developers and purchasers had limited agreement on definitions of health literacy or the role of health IT in supporting individuals with low literacy;
  • information in the Guide appeared to be outdated;
  • experts and focus group participants were highly interested in the “checklist intended to help purchasers and developers identify best practices when purchasing or designing systems that support patients”; and
  • the Guide could be useful during system development or product evaluation if it was used at appropriate points during product testing or system selection.