Digital health literacy in Germany
The German healthcare system is in the middle of the digital transformation. In order for this process to be successful, citizens must also be able to use digital information and offers properly. Digital health literacy plays a key role in this.
General digital health literacy comprises individual, social and technical skills and resources that are important for searching, finding, understanding, evaluating and applying digitally available health information. It is a dynamic concept that is closely related to the lifelong learning and empowerment approach. Digital health literacy takes into account the continuous development of digital technologies. It is intended to enable citizens to use digital health applications to increase their self-efficacy and to lead a self-determined life with a high quality of life.
Why is that important?
Digital health literacy is a crucial key qualification for responsible citizens and patients. The demands on users to deal with digital online services and in general with digital information and communication technologies are already very high today. Since the entire healthcare system is in the middle of the digital transformation, these requirements and also the complexity will presumably increase in the future. It is therefore all the more important to provide all citizens with easy access to reliable, quality-assured and lay-understandable information. This is an indispensable basis for citizens to be able to accept innovations such as electronic patient files, e‑prescriptions or video consultations and use them for themselves.
Currently, however, the range of digitally available health information is like a jungle. The amount of information to be found on the net is hard to keep track of. For example, a user on Google will find a good 400 million hits under the search term health, the topic nutrition brings almost 100 million and the term sleep comes up with a good 30 million results. Many of the hits found are difficult to understand, often they are contradicting, of questionable quality or simply wrong. This misleading is especially critical because it is about health. In addition: the network is full of interest-based information of unclear origin. That is why it is important that patients and readers use the internet competently and digitally. Thus, in addition to state-sponsored sites such as Gesundheitsinformation.de or gesundheit.bund.de, other networks can also make their contribution to education and information.