As you walk out of the doctor\u2019s office you have probably heard a lot of information.\nWhen do you need a follow-up appointment? How many times a day do you need to take your medicine? What happens if you accidentally take more than the suggested amount?\nReading the medication bottle or printed information from your doctor isn\u2019t the problem, but it is important that you understand these instructions.\nClear communication in health care is a duty that lies on both you and your doctor.\nWhat Is Health Literacy?\nFrom what you eat for breakfast to what you take for a headache, you make choices about your health each day.\nHealth literacy describes how a person can read and understand health information so they can make the right decisions.\nFor instance, patients with chronic illnesses who require regular care need to learn self-management skills, such as following a strict diet. Beyond routine check-ups and prescriptions, health literacy includes math skills, such as comparing medical insurance costs and understanding food nutrition labels.\nHow to Become Health Literate\nFollow these tips to help increase your health literacy and take control of your own health.\nCome Prepared to Your Appointment\nWrite a list of questions about the type of care you will receive. For example, ask for an explanation of your illness or self-care for a chronic illness.\nAsk Questions\nIf you don\u2019t ask questions, your nurse or doctor will think you understand the information given. Even if it seems like an unimportant question, it\u2019s better to ask while you\u2019re still in the office rather than wondering about it at home.\nBring a Family Member\nHaving another person there \u2013 especially at an appointment where you will hear news of a diagnosis \u2013 brings comfort. Your loved one may also think of other questions to ask during your visit.\nReview Prescriptions When You\u2019re at Your Doctor\u2019s Office\nWhile you\u2019re still in the doctor\u2019s office make sure you understand your doctor\u2019s instructions about the medication you will take.\nUnderstand Follow-Up Instructions\nAsk your doctor or nurse when you need to make a follow-up appointment. Also, if you are being discharged from the hospital make sure you understand any instructions given.\nCollect Contact Information\nIn case you have a question about your care, make sure you have your doctor\u2019s phone number in a handy place at home.\nRELATED: 4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Doctor Visits\nHealth Literacy and Patient Experience at UPMC\nAt UPMC, the Patient Experience department works to improve health literacy and meet the health education needs of patients all over the world. From printing handouts in multiple languages to creating the UPMC Health Library, improving health education is always a top priority.\nThe UPMC Health Library includes videos and images to show skills, such as giving an insulin shot. This is one way to improve better understanding. Other videos feature UPMC experts who discuss many topics, from what to expect during cancer treatment to golf safety tips.\nYou can also find classes at many UPMC locations throughout the greater Pittsburgh area on health topics like:\n\nExercise\nParenting\nHeart Health\n\nChallenges in Health Literacy\nDespite strides made to improve health education among patients, we still have difficulties.\nOne challenge facing health care knowledge is the busyness of our day-to-day lives. Daily schedules or unexpected events often take priority over personal care.\nDoctors and nurses count on patients to:\n\nMake appointments\nAsk questions during regular check-ups\nRead any health information you receive\n\nBoth patients and their health care providers have a responsibility to take steps to increase health literacy. Take the first step to increase your health literacy today. Visit UPMC\u2019s Health Library or connect with UPMC experts to discuss your health needs.