Partnership for a Healthier World

A Day of Understanding

Did you know that literacy skills are a stronger predictor of an individual’s health status than age, income, employment status, education level, or racial/ethnic group?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Continuing with Pfizer’s long history of responding to societal issues and the company’s dedication to ongoing research and providing solutions for the health literacy problem, Pfizer is serving as the initial convener of the Partnership for Clear Health Communication. The Partnership, a new coalition of 19 of the nation’s top health and civic organizations, will unveil an aggressive action agenda on May 7th at “A Day of Understanding” held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. This briefing will address the growing public health problem of low “health literacy,” — the ability to read, understand and act on health information.

An increasing body of evidence indicates that low health literacy may be an underlying factor in the high use of some health care services, as well as having a negative on impact health outcomes. This pervasive but, until now, relatively hidden issue is estimated to cost the U.S. health care system up to $73 billion annually and puts 90 million people — nearly 1-in-3 — at risk for poor health outcomes. Conversely, studies show that people who understand health instructions make fewer errors when taking their medicine or preparing for a medical procedure. They may also get well sooner or be able to better manage a chronic health condition.

The Partnership for Clear Health Communication
The Partnership and its members are committed to offering free and low-cost resources and programs to groups that provide information to patients, as well as medical education and practice management tools to health care providers. Certain patient groups are more vulnerable to low health literacy due to age, language skills, cultural factors or reading skills; however, anyone can have difficulty understanding health care information. Research shows that even people who are college educated prefer to have medical information stated simply.

The Day of Understanding and Ask Me 3
The Day of Understanding will examine the scope and impact of low health literacy. The Day will start with an American Medical Association Foundation Media Briefing sponsored by Pfizer. Karen Katen, President of Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals, will speak about Pfizer’s commitment to improving clear health communication. A briefing by the Partnership for Clear Health Communication will follow. Barbara DeBuono M.D., M.P.H., Senior Medical Director – Pfizer Public Health, will unveil Ask Me 3 – a new patient education program designed to promote clear communication between patients and providers in an effort to improve health outcomes.

Through patient and provider education materials developed by leading health literacy experts (available for free download and bulk ordering online at, Ask Me 3 promotes three simple but essential questions patients can ask their providers in every health care interaction in order to improve their understanding of health information:

1. What is my main problem?
2. What do I need to do?
3. Why is it important for me to do this?

The full day’s events will be available for viewing via a free, live Webcast available at An archived version of the Webcast will also be available after the event. In addition, local events and outreach will be focused in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston, Washington DC, Florida and New York.

What else is Pfizer doing to increase clear health communication?
For more than five years, Pfizer has taken a multi-faceted approach to addressing and solving the challenges associated with low health literacy and its impact on the entire health care system. Through these efforts, Pfizer is helping patients more effectively utilize the health care system and understand their provider’s instructions in order to benefit from life-saving, pharmaceutical products. By tackling the problem of low health literacy and creating practical solutions that center on clear health communication between patient and provider, Pfizer is improving patient health outcomes – the foundation of both the company’s core business and the clear health communication movement.

Partnership for Clear Health Communication Steering Committee members include:

American Federation for Aging Research
American Medical Association Foundation
American Nurses Association
American Pharmacists Association
American Public Health Association
David Baker, MD
California Literacy, Inc.
National Alliance for Caregiving
National Alliance for Hispanic Health
National Association of Community Health Centers
National Coalition for Literacy
National Council of La Raza, Institute for Hispanic Health
The National Council on the Aging
National Health Council
National Medical Association
Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS
Partnership for PreventionPfizer Inc
ProLiteracy Worldwide

For more information on what Pfizer’s efforts to increase clear health communication, please visit For more information on the Partnership for Clear Health Communication or Ask Me 3, please visit