New Patient Education Tools Seek to Continue to Break Cultural Barriers; Further Support Goals of Health Literacy/Cultural Competency Training

Danise Wilson, Executive Director, Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center, Inc., left, and Kimberly Backey, Director of Cultural Competency & Diversity Initiatives, Millennium Collaborative Care, display the “Health Literacy Toolkit” contents.

By Courtney McDermott


Millennium Collaborative Care, in partnership with Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center, have assembled and distributed new “Health Literacy Toolkits” to primary care offices, hospitals and community organizations across Western New York.

The Toolkits, which feature a comprehensive assortment of patient-specific communications are part of an overall effort to improve patient/provider communications and improve care. By doing so, the ultimate goal is to improve the overall patient experience as reflected in the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys patients complete to rate their health care experiences.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to transform healthcare delivery, we are distributing these new Toolkits first to our primary care and hospital partners,” explained Kimberly Backey, Director of Cultural Competency & Diversity Initiatives, Millennium Collaborative Care. “It is important that primary care providers and office staff; hospitals; and caretakers understand patients and have the ability to engage in meaningful two-way conversations,” she added. “It’s equally important that patients clearly understand the primary care provider and/or hospital instructions when they leave the hospital and/or their primary care provider. Our goal is to make the community healthy and avoid admission/readmission to hospitals.”




Included in the Health Literacy Toolkits are core resources reflecting various best practices. In addition, before being distributed to a specific provider, each Toolkit is further organized for specific audiences, ensuring each Partner receives customized communication tools.

“We assembled high quality patient communication materials customized for our primary Care, hospital and community partner organizations. The intent is to the alleviate steps needed to research and obtain quality information,” explained Danise Wilson, Executive Director; Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center (ENAHEC). “For example, we have attempted to answer questions like, ‘What poster should I have?’, or ‘What literature is approved by the CDC?’. We’ve done all of the leg work for our Partners, allowing them to focus on patient care.”

A few examples of Tool Kit sources and contents include:

  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; a nationally renowned resource for improvement of Health Literacy.
  • Information regarding the ‘Teach-Back Method’; a research-based method that helps providers communicate with patients, and ultimately, improve health outcomes. ‘Teach-Back’ is also one of the few evidence-based communication practices.
  • Resources for “Ask Me 3” and “Say Ah!”; patient-centered communications intended to help patients understand how to approach their physician and feel comfortable doing so, including suggested information patients may need to ask for when leaving the clinic so they can properly take their health into their own hands.
  • Forward Facing Materials; materials for providers to hang in their office and waiting rooms for patients to take home to have access to links and other avenues for other resources.
  • Plain Language Thesaurus; will help the providers and staff to articulate words that they use every day. The thesaurus is meant to help translate medical jargon into regular words so that a patient may understand.


In addition to the new Toolkit; Erie Niagara AHEC and Millennium have continued to partner on providing Health Literacy & Cultural Competency Training to instruct healthcare professionals on how to communicate with their patients, and in the process, break through cultural barriers to ensure the best self-care after visiting a hospital or Primary Care office.

Most recently, the training program has been approved by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) as a source of Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits.

“Through Health Literacy and Cultural Competency training sessions that we have provided on behalf of Millennium, we know that addressing each individual is essential to quality patient care. We understand that our partners serve a very diverse community and must be aware that there are many social determinates that prevent patients from becoming health literate,” explained Danise Wilson.

“There are advantages to taking the necessary steps to become culturally competent. Through the Health Literacy and Cultural Competency trainings and toolkits, MCC PPS and ENAHEC aim to strengthen the health workforce foundation. We hope to build upon both the way we practice and access healthcare in Western New York, with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes for all patients.”

For further information on “Health Literacy Tool Kits” and/or “Health Literacy & Cultural Competency Training”, please contact:

Kimberly Backey, Manager of Cultural Competency & Diversity Initiatives

m: +1 7162703029

t: +1 7168986423



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The Erie County Medical Center Corporation (ECMCC) is the parent organization of Millennium Collaborative Care

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