From the humble pedometer to smartwatches that warn of heart problems, we’ve been using digital technology to help make health decisions for decades.
But despite its enormous potential in addressing healthcare challenges, an accessible overview of people’s understanding of health information and digital health tools has been lacking.
Now an international team working with researchers from RMIT University in Australia and its European-based innovation hub have consolidated and visualised the complex data into an easy-to-use atlas.
RMIT’s Digital Health Hub Director, Professor Kerryn Butler-Henderson, said the freely-accessibly atlas paves the way for better, evidence-backed, decisions.
“We’ve taken a magnifying glass to a myriad of existing studies into health literacy and digital health literacy levels and unified them so they can be compared against each other,” she said.
“With a better understanding of these literacy levels, work to improve them can be better targeted towards the often-marginalised groups who need it most.
“By shining a light on best practice evidence, the atlas will become a critical tool in literacy reform.”
The Global Atlas of Literacies for Health (GALH) is one of the first online tools displaying interactive data visualising levels of health literacy and digital health literacy from evidence-based studies conducted with citizens, patients and health professionals across the globe.
The international team working in the European Union-funded research program Improving Digital Empowerment for Active Healthy Living (IDEAHL) analysed more than 12,000 studies and best practice examples.
After engaging with groups across the health and technology sectors, they narrowed the sample to 450 best-practice examples from the last five years.
Researchers at RMIT then worked with the geospatial mapping company dMap, to consolidate and visualise the complex data in an easy-to-access interactive map, with raw data download capability and a best practice and policy resource list.