Sustainability Strategies for Health Literacy Programs
There are several sustainability strategies for rural health literacy programs. The Rural Community Health
Toolkit also provides information in its Sustainability
Building Capacity and Buy-in
Programs that build capacity within their organization may be able to ensure that activities continue after
grant funding ends. Aligning program goals with the organization's mission and goals can increase buy-in from
leadership and help embed health literacy principles into organizational standards.
To increase buy-in at the community level to improve commitment and retention in interventions, programs can
consider ways to share program successes and progress with funders, partners, and community members.
Programs may also want to consider opportunities to share program ownership and find ways for community members
to directly contribute to the development and implementation of programming.
Developing a Health Literacy Plan
Organizations with a health literacy focus should consider developing a health literacy plan. A health literacy
plan can help ensure the sustainability of programs by coordinating, documenting, and operationalizing
implementation steps. Elements of a health literacy plan may:
- Present the vision of the program
- Include a statement of commitment from program partners
- Highlight any existing policies relevant for health literacy
- Present program goals, objectives, and planned actions
- Address plans for evaluation, sustainability efforts, and dissemination of findings
Identifying funding and reimbursement strategies
Programs need to identify different sources of funding and reimbursement to ensure ongoing monetary support for
staff and program resources. Examples of resources that can be used to fund health literacy programs could
Reimbursement for services from health insurers
Contributions from local or state government
Support from using value-based or alternative payment models
Federal, state, or local agencies that fund rural health literacy programs and research through grants
Foundations and nonprofit organizations that fund health literacy through grants, sponsorship, in-kind
contributions, volunteerism, and more
Low health literacy has significant economic consequences for insurers, providers, and patients. The leading
cause of higher healthcare expenditures for persons with low health literacy is longer hospital stays. Other factors, such as improper use
of prescriptions or confusion about treatment plans, can lead to increased hospital and doctor visits, which can
also be costly.
To reduce these costs, rural health literacy programs implemented in healthcare settings may want to consider
moving towards Alternative Payment Models (APMs), or value-based care that incentivizes providers through
reimbursement. By linking payment to high-quality care, APMs can help minimize healthcare costs while also
holding providers accountable.
For more information about program funding strategies, visit the Social Determinants of Health in Rural
Communities Toolkit page on Funding Strategies.
Resources to Learn More
Beyond the Grant: A Sustainable Financing
Workbook offering evidence-based models and interactive tools that rural communities can use to explore
available financing strategies.
Organization(s): ReThink Health
a Sustainable Health Literacy Business Model
Expert-led podcast discussing the need for sustainability planning and the benefits of developing a business
model to promote program longevity.
Author(s): Osborne, H.
Organization(s): Health Literacy Out Loud