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Monday, 10th August 2015

Health Literacy in Europe: Empowering patients - how can technology contribute to improving health literacy?

Source: European Parliament Science and Technology Options Assessment

From The importance of innovation for health literacy in Europe:

The world of health applications is set to transform healthcare in the coming years. With global mobile broadband subscriptions predicted to reach 9.3 billion in 2019 alone, the mobile platform will make up an increasing portion of e-health. This is already evident in the growing use of health applications. About 97.000 m-health applications are available on different platforms: 70% of these are aimed at citizens. The other 30% are designed for healthcare professionals by facilitating the access to patient information, consultations, monitoring, diagnostic imaging and information on medicines.

Mobile applications have the advantage of existing on a device that is already in everyone’s hands at almost any time of the day. In addition, mobile applications help patients and citizens to access health information about health prevention and healthy lifestyles, and to manage their disease. In turn, increased availability of health information across borders presumes skilled citizens and patients. But are they health literate enough to make best use of this technology? In fact, health literacy levels across the EU are still rather low, with persistent inequalities across and within Member States.

Low health literacy has proven to have a direct impact on the management of chronic conditions, productivity levels, mortality rate and overall healthcare costs. With the emergence of new technologies, citizens are faced with more complex decisions to make. For example, with progress in genomics people will be required to better understand the health issues that could affect them.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »



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