Empowering patients through health IT


Opportunities and evidence



Mary Jo Deering, Deering Health Associates, Washington, D.C., USA


In most health care systems around the world, knowledge, expertise, and decision-making has traditionally been presumed to reside exclusively with medical professionals. The advent of health information technologies – from informational web sites to “consumer apps” and wearable devices – has made it possible for individuals to not only access the latest research but also to manage their health and partner with their doctors as needed. Several trends are driving the movement toward more empowered, engaged patients (including healthy individuals, health care consumers, and family caregivers): U.S. and European health policies promote engagement as one means to improving the health of their populations[1]; medical thought leaders recognize that health care quality and outcomes are improved when patients participate in their care[2]; and the dynamic global technology sector is creating new capabilities and expectations.[3]

However, the widespread achievement of technology-enabled empowerment is far from assured, nor is the goal universally shared. The concept of patient empowerment itself is foreign to many patients as well as doctors. Deficiencies in policies and technologies create significant barriers.   Data hoarding and data exploitation are equal challenges.

[1] The U.S. Electronic Health Records Incentives Program includes patient and family engagement activities. http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/index.html/.   See also the First European Conference on Patient Empowerment. The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9827, Page 1677, 5 May 2012. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60699-0

[2] Institute of Medicine . Partnering with Patients to Drive Shared Decisions, Better Value, and Care Improvement. http://www.iom.edu/Activities/Quality/VSRT/2013-FEB-25.aspx

[3] For example, Apple’s Healthkit. http://www.applehealthkit.com/

Subjects and scope

Papers discussing both opportunities and current evidence are encouraged in such areas as

  • Consumer/patient technologies for managing specific conditions
  • Consumer/patient decision-support tools
  • Technologies supporting doctor-patient partnerships
  • Mobile technologies and social media
  • Privacy and security of digital personal health information
  • Data sharing and data mining issues, such as the ability of individuals to control access to their personal data, the collection and sale of data by medical and consumer technology companies, inadequate interoperability of data and systems
  • Health literacy and health equity issues related to health technologies

Important Dates

Submission deadline: 27 February 2015
Notification of acceptance: 20 March 2015