What is Consumer Health Informatics? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
In this lesson, you'll learn what distinguishes informatics from health informatics from consumer health informatics. Finally, learn about examples of technologies that empower consumers to make their own healthcare decisions.

Informatics

If you've ever studied ways by which information is collected, then classified, then stored, and finally retrieved and disseminated, then you studied what is known as informatics. Everything from common websites to apps to online portals you might use on a daily basis rely on informatics.

Informatics can be applied to any field, but in this lesson we're going to see how it applies to the field of health specifically.

What is Health Informatics?

When we narrow down the scope of informatics as it applies to healthcare, we can define health informatics as:

  • The study of how information technology systems can be designed for, and applied to, healthcare services
  • The ways by which healthcare information can be acquired, stored, analyzed, retrieved, presented, and disseminated

Health informatics can improve the delivery, management, planning, and collaboration of a person's healthcare between various parties, including the patient him/herself and the healthcare providers.

Consumer health informatics is a sub-field of health informatics that serves to empower and inform patients to make intelligent decisions about their own healthcare by using improved education, health information literacy, jargon-free language, and other strategies. So, basically, it's health informatics but from the consumer's/patient's point of view.

Examples

This may seem like a hefty definition but the real world examples of consumer health informatics are surely something you've encountered.

For example, have you ever visited a medical information website? If you did so, you might have used an online tool where you entered something like your height, weight, and other information in order to get a piece of easily understandable health information in exchange. That involves consumer health informatics. The data you entered was collected, stored, analyzed, reconciled with other internal data, and then presented to you in one neat package.

Or, how about this one? Have you ever gone to a drug store where they had one of those blood pressure machines? That machine took your blood pressure (collected information/knowledge), analyzed it, retrieved information pertinent to the analysis, and then presented a piece of information for you. For instance, the machine might've said you need to see a doctor because your blood pressure was too high!

And here's another example from daily life of consumer health informatics. Do you use a health-related app on your smartphone? Maybe you use it to organize your lab tests, or to facilitate the knowledge and understanding of your own health. Perhaps it even offers lifestyle ideas for improved health or gives you important reminders from your doctor's office.

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