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NHCOA Pre-Launches Health Literacy E-Learning Platform for Lay Health Workers

Portal e-Comunidad trains promotores de salud to promote, increase health literacy among Latino seniors with chronic diseases

Washington, DC Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregiverstoday announced the pre-launch of the Portal e-Comunidad, an e-learning platform for promotores de salud (lay community health workers) to advance and promote health literacy among Latino seniors with chronic diseases. The Portal e-Comunidad, which was developed with support from the Office on Minority Health of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is currently in beta testing mode and is being made available to a broader audience.

“As the U.S. population grows older, an increasingly larger share of our older Americans are Hispanic,” said Dr. Cruz. “Through this demographic shift we are confronting several realities that need to be addressed, particularly in the area of health. Hispanic older adults are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases and illnesses. In addition, we know that lack of health literacy is an added burden that impact Latinos, as well as other Americans.”

“The Office of Minority Health is pleased to partner with the National Hispanic Council on Aging to support the use of e-learning platforms to advance and promote health literacy among Latino seniors,” said J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health. “We applaud NHCOA for creating this innovative program and hope this initiative will stimulate more efforts to extend the use of online learning as a tool to help advance health equity in communities of color.”

The Portal e-Comunidad was developed to provide promotores de salud with easy-to-use and accessible learning platform to learn about and promote health literacy among Latino seniors in their communities. There are currently five modules of 20-40 minute lessons on narrated PowerPoint presentations. In this beta version, topics covered include managing medications at home and how to get the most out of a doctor’s visit. Each module includes a pre- and post-test, as well as additional materials. Also at the end of each module the promotor/a receives a personalized certificate of completion.

“Online learning is becoming an increasingly central piece of any educational setting,” added Dr. Henry Pacheco, NHCOA Medical Director. “Tools like the Portal e-Comunidad help connect promotores de salud who serve hard-to-reach audiences, such as Hispanic older adults, with relevant, important, and necessary learning opportunities they aren’t able to easily access through other channels. This platform also has the potential of connecting and creating extended networks of promotores de salud at the click of a button.”

Members of NHCOA’s Hispanic Aging Network and a community health center were selected to pilot test the e-learning platform and provide feedback on module quality, educational content, and other key indicators. Comments from the promotores de salud were generally positive, citing the platform’s convenience, easy interface, and topics in-line with their expectations and learning needs.

With Portal e-Comunidad, NHCOA seeks to provide promotores de salud across the country with a useful learning platform that will aid their day-to-day work, empowering Hispanic older adults in their communities to take control of their healthcare. While low health literacy levels directly affects the patient, it also impacts multiple parties. This includes the patient’s family, the healthcare system, and general public health, and presents a wide range of consequences:

  • poor self-management skills, as well as medication and self-care errors;
  • an inability to navigate the healthcare system;
  • increased hospitalization and ER visits;
  • health disparities;
  • and the annual cost of healthcare in the U.S. economy.

The development of NHCOA’s Portal e-Comunidad was funded through a grantee of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Minority Health.

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