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Lost in Translation: Consumer Health Information in an Interoperable World

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Publication Date: September 2005

Publisher(s): California HealthCare Foundation

Author(s): Joshua Seidman

Topic: Health (Health services administration)

Type: Brief


Each day, more people seek information from online sources than from their own physician. But availability of information does not necessarily translate into understanding or taking appropriate actions. While momentum builds for a National Health Information Network infrastructure, it remains unclear what role patients will play in the interconnected world of providers. As clinical information becomes more directly available to consumers through the Internet or through other electronic communications from providers, a mechanism for meaningful, consistent translation to engage consumers is lagging. For example, a diabetic patient accessing his personal health record may find that a recent hemoglobin A1c test is 10% but what does the patient do with this information? Are there ways to help patients understand the data -- and the actions they should take -- without having to schedule a visit with a provider? Are there ways of ensuring that an Internet search could supply patients with meaningful information? This report takes a first look at consumer-based information and what could be done to better integrate consumer health information standards into the NHIN framework.