Mediglyphs®: A Visual Health Literacy System

Health Literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

- Healthy People 2010

Did you know?

"Nearly half of all American adults--90 million people--have difficulty understanding and using health information, and there is a higher rate of hospitalization and use of emergency services among patients with limited health literacy."

- 2004 Institute of Medicine report titled "Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion"

Central Ohio has seen a demographic change in the past decade bringing diverse cultures, languages and challenges in the pediatric health care delivery system.  Nationwide Children’s Hospital recognizes these challenges and believes there is an urgent need for the pharmacy and healthcare community to address how low literacy and/or lack of language skills directly affect the quality of patient care.

First implemented in 2002, Mediglyphs® is an on-going effort between the Division of Ambulatory Pediatrics and the Department of Pharmacy. This innovative visual health literacy system has far-reaching potential that we believe will lead change within pediatric pharmaceutical and healthcare delivery systems. The mission of this unique pediatric health literacy system is to use pediatric specific images that increase patient/caregiver adherence to prescription instructions, thereby reducing medication errors.

The Mediglyphs® System addresses clinical implications associated with:

  • Growing population of low-literate and non-English speaking caregivers.
  • Increasing pediatric ambulatory care services.
  • Pediatricians providing prescriptions to caregivers unfamiliar with healthcare terminology.

Our pictogram library is an innovative web-based educational tool made up of an array of pictograms illustrating medication-specific instructions. This unique system allows health care providers to:

  • Print patient education material specific to a certain medication.
  • Create custom pediatric-specific education materials.
  • Reinforce verbal instruction through the use of pediatric images
  • Utilize teaching strategies that may increase medication adherence.


In January, 2006, our asthma library was complete, with approximately 280 images making up this comprehensive library.  Asthma is the number one chronic disorder in children nationally. Images within our library are used to create picture perfect asthma education material. Using clear health communication techniques along with our education material, providers may see:

  • Increasing the use of preventative medicines through medication adherence.
  • Decrease in urgent care/emergency department visits.

Request Picture Perfect Patient Education Material CD

The following asthma education materials are written and illustrated as part of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Mediglyphs® System. These education materials should be used in conjunction with verbal instructions and teaching. The information contained in our asthma education material is periodically reviewed and revised to reflect our current practice. However, Nationwide Children's Hospital is not responsible for any consequences resulting from the use or misuse of the information. All material contained within the Mediglyphs® System is copyrighted by Nationwide Children's Hospital with all rights reserved. They are intended for the exclusive use of educating patients and families. Any other use of these materials is prohibited.

If you are interested in obtaining a CD containing asthma patient education material, please complete the request form.