Working Groups

Consumer Health Informatics (CHI)

What is CHI?

Technological developments - such as the internet or smartphones - have made medical knowledge available to the user group of medical non-professionals worldwide and at any time in recent decades [1-3]. This results in changes in the traditional doctor-patient relationship [4]. Self-confident and actively engaged patients are increasingly exerting influence on possible treatment options and the associated long-term effects on their health. The term patient empowerment describes this state of affairs and is now an established field internationally [5].

At the same time, consumers are becoming accustomed to ubiquitously available information provision for decision support through everyday smartphone use. This applies, for example, not only to booking train tickets, but increasingly also to retrieving personalised health-related information. This is particularly evident in the growing number of apps related to the topic of "health and medicine". In this context, apps are no longer used purely to acquire knowledge; rather, end consumers are increasingly collecting data about themselves through sensors integrated into smartphones. The so-called phenomenon of quantified self-tracking [6] is also increasingly recognised by the sports and health industry. In this context, however, such data can also be used for disease prevention or health-conscious living - e.g. encouraging more physical activity in the early stages of type 2 diabetes.

From the aforementioned aspects, the necessity arises to involve the user group of medical laypersons more strongly in the development of (medical) software systems. This applies in particular to the aspects of usability and decision support. In addition, the target group-related representation of knowledge as well as data security in the transmission of personal data play a central role.

There are already a variety of projects and research initiatives on the topics listed above. Therefore, the primary goal is to establish the topic area within the GMDS and to channel and advance cross-institutional project ideas on consumer-centred applications. The project group should therefore serve as an exchange and networking platform for interdisciplinary projects and publications, among other things.


For all members of the CHI WG, you can find a short presentation in the GMDS layout under HERE, which introduces the subject area of Consumer Health Informatics and the activities of the WG in more detail. The slides can be used freely, for example to draw attention to our activities in presentations.


[1] Hardey, M. Doctor in the house: The Internet as a source of lay health knowledge and the challenge to expertise. Sociol. Health Illness 1999, 21, 820–835, doi:10.1111/1467-9566.00185.

[2] Cline, R.J.; Haynes, K.M. Consumer health information seeking on the Internet: The state of the art. Health Educ. Res. 2001, 16, 671–692, doi:10.1093/her/16.6.671.

[3] Eysenbach, G.; Kohler, C. How do consumers search for and appraise health information on the world wide web? Qualitative study using focus groups, usability tests, and in-depth interviews. Br. Med. J. 2002, 324, 573, doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7337.573.

[4] McMullan, M. Patients using the Internet to obtain health information: How this affects the patient–health professional relationship. Patient Educ. Counsel. 2006, 63, 24–28, doi:10.1016/j.pec.2005.10.006.

[5] Anderson, R.M.; Funnell, M.M. Patient empowerment: Reflections on the challenge of fostering the adoption of a new paradigm. Patient Educ. Counsel. 2005, 57, 153–157, doi:10.1016/j.pec.2004.05.008.

[6] Swan, M. Emerging patient-driven health care models: An examination of health social networks, consumer personalized medicine and quantified self-tracking. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009, 6, 492–525, doi:10.3390/ijerph6020492.