top of page
Lady with doctor - reduced.jpg


Created on the front lines

In 2012, Literacy for Life designed its innovative HEAL Program to address the critical issue of low health literacy—drawing on its expertise as a premier adult literacy organization. Literacy for Life launched the program to learners in the greater Williamsburg, Virginia, community to great success.

What is health literacy?

Health literacy is the ability to understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health care decisions.

Why does it matter?

Literacy is a stronger predictor of a person’s health than income, employment status, education level, or race or ethnicity.


People with low health literacy are more likely to skip important preventive measures and to enter the health care system when they’re sicker. They’re more likely to have chronic conditions and less likely to manage them effectively. They are significantly more likely to report their health as poor.

Low health literacy doesn’t just affect patients. It strains the health care system itself, resulting in preventable hospital visits and admissions, longer stays, higher readmission rates, and extra tests, procedures, and prescriptions.


The estimated health costs of low literacy in the United States are $106 billion to $236 billion annually.

What does HEAL do?


The HEAL Program® addresses health literacy through classes for adults seeking to improve their health care knowledge and thorough training for medical professionals. Successful implementation of HEAL Complete can benefit the whole community, resulting in:

  • Improved patient health, safety, and satisfaction

  • Improved patient engagement

  • Fewer hospital admissions and readmissions

  • Reduced length of hospital stays

  • Decreased use of emergency services

  • Significantly reduced health care costs

HEAL's impact

“Regardless of the language you speak, you still need to know what questions to ask and you still need to take care of your own health care. Our language lines help people to interpret the language; this program helps people know what questions to ask."

David Masterson
President, Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center
Developed by
Literacy For Life
Become a licensed
HEAL Complete provider!
To learn more and receive a custom quote, contact:

+1 (757) 221-3325
Award Winner_edited.png
Literacy for Life
William & Mary
301 Monticello Ave
PO Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187

bottom of page