Monday, October 26, 2009

Impact of Consumer Health Informatics Applications

Consumer health informatics (CHI) is the branch of medical informatics that analyses consumers' needs for information; studies and implements methods of making information accessible to consumers; and models and integrates consumers' preferences into medical information systems.

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) has released a report on the "Impact of Consumer Health Informatics Applications." The report, prepared by the Johns Hopkins Evidence-based Practice Center and led by Chris Gibbons, is part of AHRQ’s evidence report/technology assessment series. The objective of this report is to review the evidence on the impact of CHI applications on health outcomes, to identify the knowledge gaps and to make recommendations for future research.

The report found that consumer health informatics applications can help improve health care processes, such as medication adherence. These applications are defined as patient-focused electronic tools to support health improvement, process outcomes, and patient-centered care. The benefits of using such applications apply to a variety of clinical conditions, including cancer, smoking, diabetes mellitus, physical activity, and mental health disorders. The report also identified important knowledge gaps in the new and emerging field of consumer health informatics.

The report concluded that "available literature suggests that select CHI applications may effectively engage consumers, enhance traditional clinical interventions, and improve both intermediate and clinical health outcomes" and that while the applications offer significant promise and potential to positively impact select clinical outcomes, more research is needed to determine conclusions on impact.

The full report is available here: (Publication No. 10-E019): (PDF File, 3.6 MB)