The health services and its associated disciplines evolve as society science and technology evolves. In the past, pen and paper was the only way to document a person’s health history. Health information was also given from the perspective of the clinician with little to no patient involvement in the process of health care. While this approach left little to no room for misinformation it also left no room for patient engagement. This approach has affected the cultural outlook on persons in the medical professions especially in relation to doctors who were seen particularly as the epitome of health information. This kind of thinking has even affected the inter relation between doctors and nurses.
Within the last few decades however healthcare has taken a consumer engagement/ involvement approach. This approach encourages active participation in decision making on the part of the patient and the patient’s family. This was and is partly influenced by the availability of information through the advent of and growth in the use of the internet which has revolutionised the way in which a person is able to access information
Consumer Informatics thus has been the result of the interaction between the shift from physician centered to patient centered care and the impact of readily accessible information via the internet. Consumer informatics is the future of nursing informatics and the health profession as a whole.
According to the United States General Accounting Office, consumer health Informatics is the use of modern computers and telecommunications to support consumers in obtaining information analysing their unique health care needs and helping them to make decisions about their own health, in which the consumer interacts with the applications with or without the presence of health care professionals.
Another definition of consumer health informatics 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. (Eysenbach 2000).
The common thread in all of the definitions is the use of technology to obtain information to meet “consumers” needs. With its patient centric approach consumer informatics is said to overlap with public health informatics because it takes the similar approach of using information to make informed decisions about health and requires greater input from patients. As such, it is said to empower clients because it promotes and enhances a person’s ability to meet one’s own needs, solve problems and use one’s resources to have greater control over one’s life.
Empowerment through consumer informatics is achieved by Informing about health concerns, assisting in finding others with similar concerns, assisting in navigating the health care system and access to clinical records and personal care management tools. (Eysenbach 2000)
Nursing has long...