Partner Profile: A Conversation with Phil Landis, DNP, RN, CEN, NPD-BC

June 15, 2023

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) is featuring our partners on our website and in our monthly newsletter. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight your work and contributions to improving the health of people in Philadelphia and beyond. We hope these profiles will give our readers a better understanding of the breadth of work that HCIF is involved in, as well as an introduction to our innovative and valuable partners that we are fortunate enough to work with.

For over a decade, HCIF has supported regional and statewide health literacy initiatives through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Pennsylvania Hospital has been a clinical partner in this work since its inception. Since 2017, Phil Landis, DNP, RN, CEN, NPD-BC has worked with HCIF as Pennsylvania Hospital’s Health Literacy Project Lead. Dr. Phil, as he’s known to colleagues, serves as Clinical Nurse Education Specialist, Emergency Department and Observation Units and Co-Chair, Patient/Family Education & Health Literacy Committee. We asked Dr. Phil to reflect on his accomplishments as a longtime champion of health literacy.

You have been working to advance health literacy for over a decade. What inspires you in this work?

The pioneers who started this work, and from whom I’ve learned so much.  Although it sometimes seems that progress around health literacy is slow, the traction and trajectory concerning the concept continue to grow legs and move forward.  At least at Pennsylvania Hospital, the awareness has definitively increased during my 13-year tenure as co-chair of the hospital’s Patient/Family Education & Health Literacy Committee (“make sure you take it to Phil’s committee for input/approval!”).

Penn Medicine has prioritized health literacy across the health system and at individual facilities. What is one of the most impactful changes that Penn has achieved in this space? 

Penn Medicine is following the new paradigm and moving from health literacy as an individual imperative toward a “health literate organization”, which broadens the depth, scope and responsibility of health literacy to the larger health system.   We are presently working with our health literacy/patient education partners in the other entities in conducting a “health literate organizational assessment”, using some of the established tools developed by Dr. Rima Rudd and her colleagues.  This will allow us insight into how to better serve our patients, from campus wayfinding to written materials, to electronic portals and clearer communication.

What is one key thing you would like the public, or someone not in health care, to understand about health literacy?

That it does not correlate to income or education, and that decreased health literacy can directly impact one’s quality of life and health outcomes. My advice to patients is to write down all of your questions ahead of time when you visit your provider, and do not leave the office until you have all of them answered in language you understand!

What have you found most meaningful about working with Health Care Improvement Foundation? What’s something you’ve learned from our partnership? 

The importance of collaboration across so many diverse groups, and how critical personal relationships are in working on projects together.  It has been an honor to meet and work with so many wonderful professionals from so many different backgrounds.

Reflecting on your long career as a nurse, what is one of your greatest accomplishments within your work so far?

Maintaining compassion and an appropriate sense of humor in dealing with the human condition, and knowing that I made a difference in my patients’ and families’ lives.

Dr. Phil’s advocacy for health literacy and willingness to share tips, tricks, and lesson learned with both clinical and community partners has certainly made a difference in HCIF’s health literacy initiatives. Something you may not know about Dr. Phil is that he grew up on a turkey farm in Lancaster County, and enjoys regularly baking for his Emergency Department colleagues. He will be retiring later this year, and is looking forward to sleeping in until at least 6am, instead of 4:30am!

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