Pharmacy is a profession in healthcare.  Pharmacy informatics is a specialty within this profession. It is not yet one of the recognized specialty areas by the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties, but it is a specialty nonetheless.  Consumer health informatics is a subspecialty within informatics, and can be integrated with pharmacy or any other profession in healthcare.  My path has led to immersion in the possibilities associated with consumer health informatics.

Consumer health informatics (CHI), like medical informatics, health informatics, and pharmacy informatics, suffers from a bit of an identity crisis – or at least a lack of consensus terminology.  The two working definitions for CHI that I am particular to are:

“…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.”

British Medical Journal article by Eysenbach

“…studies from a patient/consumer perspective the use of electronic information and communication to improve medical outcomes and the health care decision-making process.”

American Medical Informatics Association’s

CHI Working Group

One of the most attractive elements of CHI was also summarized quite nicely in the review by Eysenbach:

“Consumer informatics stands at the crossroads of other disciplines, such as nursing informatics, public health, health promotion, health education, library science, and communication science…it is paving the way for health care in the information age.”

There is much to appreciate in the inherent collaborative and participatory nature of the CHI subspecialty.  Because of its characteristics, aspects of Web 2.0/social media are also frequently included under the CHI umbrella.  The interdisciplinary approach of CHI was born out of necessity and offers the chance to capitalize on the strengths of multiple professions and ultimately improve outcomes.  I look forward to exploring the promise of CHI and its potential impact on the constantly changing world of healthcare.


[Note: Thanks to Chad Hardy (@pillguy) for the invitation as a blog contributor at]

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