Hello and welcome!
I am Dr. Darcie Moeller, a resident physician training in preventive medicine. I am passionate about patient education, especially as a means for reducing disparities in health outcomes for people with low health literacy – but more on that later. I have a background in fine arts and film making and did a lot of waiting tables and bartending before going into medicine. I’ve spent most of my life on the coasts but am embracing Chicago as my new home.
As a patient, I was shaped by my experience trying to navigate the healthcare system while ill and uninsured. There were so many times when I felt frustrated and helpless, even wanting to give up on getting the medical care I needed. I wondered how many thousands of others, with less resources and more vulnerabilities, were dealing with the same thing – or much worse. I am now fiercely dedicated to improving health outcomes in high-need communities. People in these communities suffer much higher rates of illness and early death due to a number of socioeconomic factors including (but not limited to) income, insurance status, access to high-quality education, and health literacy.
Health literacy is the “degree to which individuals can obtain, process, understand, and communicate about health-related information needed to make informed health decisions.”
Patients with low health literacy tend to have poorer health.  There are likely multiple pathways mediating this relationship. The pathways dealing with motivation, comprehension, and self-care are of particular interest to me.
As a doctor, I have faced immense time constraints in both the clinic and the hospital. The task of providing adequate and comprehensive patient education, especially to those that most need it, is daunting. We as healthcare workers often end up sending our patients home with a text-based printout about their condition, assuming they will understand it and hoping they will tell us if they don’t. We hope that they have access to the internet but also worry about what they could misinterpret. We hope our patients will follow up, eat the right things, remember our instructions, and take their medications properly. We hope the decisions they make are well-informed. The focus of my career is to provide support to the doctor-patient relationship, to facilitate communication, and to help patients engage in their care as fully and wholly as they desire.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recommends universal precautions be used in the creation of written materials intended for patient use.
“Health literacy universal precautions are the steps that practices take when they assume that all patients may have difficulty comprehending health information and accessing health services.”
My patient education materials use universal precautions, and are created by applying concepts from research in design, health literacy, and health communications. My materials target the needs of people with low health literacy but are appropriate for people of all literacy levels.
Art x Medicine
To me, art is communication. It is something created and shared. It can change your mind. It can make you feel something. So, when I think about medical communications it’s natural for me to think about how I might leverage the power of art for the purpose of medicine. Of course, this is very relevant to my work in patient education. The best way to teach someone something may not be through text! In addition to the way it facilitates communication, I am interested in how art brings enjoyment through humor and beauty. Can a community mural of a woman breastfeeding help to increase breastfeeding rates? Can a stand-up comedian discussing his struggles with diabetes help other patients cope with their diagnosis?
I am all for it. Do you have similar interests? an idea for a project? Get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!
Other interests include:
- 1°, 2°, & 3° Disease Prevention
- Breastfeeding Medicine
- End-of-Life Care
- Innovation in Healthcare
- Healthy Aging
- Incremental Care
 Berkman, N. D., Davis, T. C., & McCormack, L. (2010). Health literacy: What is it? Journal of Health Communication, 15, 9-19.
 Health Literacy – Fact Sheet: Health Literacy and Health Outcomes. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
 AHRQ Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit. Content last reviewed November 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/quality-resources/tools/literacy-toolkit/index.html