Health Communication and Health Information Technology Workgroup Objectives (19)

About the Workgroup

Approach and Rationale

People base their health decisions on information from many sources, including health care providers, the internet, social networks, and online medical records. Gaps exist between these sources and people’s ability to find, understand, and use health information. This is largely due to the complexity of health information, where it’s located and how accessible it is, and lack of social support.

Health communication strategies and technology impact health outcomes, quality of care, and health equity. They determine a patient’s ability to make informed decisions and play a significant role in health promotion. Core objectives selected by the HC-HIT Workgroup aim to improve:

  • Communication between health care providers and their patients
  • Patients’ understanding of their health information
  • Shared decision-making
  • Access to health information
  • Use of social support networks

Developmental and research objectives selected by the HC-HIT Workgroup highlight high-priority public health issues that lack evidence, including:

  • Social marketing by state health departments
  • Completeness, actionability, and engagement of crisis and emergency risk messages
  • Interoperability of health information systems
  • Communication with adults with limited English proficiency
  • Health literacy of the population

Emerging Issues in Health Communication and Health Information Technology

Attaining health literacy is one of Healthy People 2030’s foundational principles and overall goals. Reflecting the evolving understanding of health literacy, Healthy People 2030 has adopted 2 definitions that together constitute health literacy:

  • Personal health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
  • Organizational health literacy is the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.

Healthy People 2030 focuses on improving the health literacy of those who face the greatest challenges and on improving organizational health literacy by reducing the complexity of health information and systems. Existing measurement frameworks for both personal and organizational health literacy can support tracking health literacy objectives.

Another emerging issue is the increasing reliance on technologies to provide health information to the public and to patients and their potential for improving patient outcomes. Efforts are underway to ensure that people have access to their health information when and where they need it — for example, through the creation of user-friendly health apps.