What is Consumer Health Informatics?

While there are a plethora of intriguing fields within the medical industry, consumer health informatics is particularly interesting to many. Although broadly defined, consumer health informatics is a field which is devoted to informatics from patient views or multiple consumers. The field includes consumer education, health literacy, and patient-focused informatics. By learning more about consumer health informatics, individuals can better prepare themselves to pursue a career in the field or equip themselves with the knowledge necessary to lead a healthy and productive life.

Consumer Health Informatics: Processes and Structures

Although consumer health informatics can cover a broad range of subjects, the focus is on information processes and structures that enable consumers to take care of their own health. Some of the processes and structures that could make this possible would be consumer-friendly language, health information literacy, Internet-based strategies and resources, and personal health records. Through the field of consumer health informatics, methods that make information accessible to consumers is studied and implemented. Additionally, the preferences of the consumer are integrated into existing health information systems. The field of consumer informatics integrates information from other disciplines such as public health, health education, health promotion, communication science, nursing informatics, and library science. Consumer health informatics also incorporates information resources, remote monitoring, telepresence, and videoconferencing.

Consumer Health Informatics And Technology

In addition to the aforementioned disciplines, consumer health informatics includes the use of technologies which focus on patients as the primary users of health data. Consumer health informatics is also tied to the field of medical informatics. Medical informatics, which has undergone a rapid expansion during the past several years, has been the venue of development for information systems to be used by healthcare managers and physicians. In recent years, however, there has been a growing interest in how computers and telecommunications systems can be used to reach patients and consumers directly. Consumer health informatics plays a role in medical informatics because it is the branch which analyzes a consumers’ need for information. Consumer health informatics also implements and studies methods through which information can become accessible to consumers and integrates the preferences of the consumer into medical information systems.

CHI Applications

To get a better grasp of the field of consumer health informatics, one should note that it includes the use of CHI applications. In defining CHI applications, Gibbons, Wilson, and Samal state that they include any technology, system, or electronic tool that conforms to the following criteria:

1. Primarily purposed to interact with consumers or health information users (this would include any individuals who use or seek health care data for work that is nonprofessional)

2. Is a mode of interaction between the consumer who provides health data to the CHI system and receives personalized health data from the system or tool application

3. Includes data, recommendations, or other benefits which the consumer can choose to use with or without a healthcare professional

In these contemporary times, consumer health informatics is likely to become a more and more prevalent field. With our emphasis on technology and customer service-based businesses, consumer health informatics is likely to become more firmly integrated into the health industry with each passing year. Given the fact that the field is designed to help consumers maximize their own health, the rise of consumer health informatics will likely help those who make use of it lead a more productive, positive life.