Key messages for e-health policy

E-health can have a significant influence on health literacy 

The importance of e-health for improving health literacy among senior citizens is repeatedly stressed in numerous policy recommendations Find website here.

Based on IROHLA’s research we would like to make the following recommendations to policy makers:

  1. E-health and m-health applications are cheap and effective ways of increasing health literacy outcomes which is imperative for self-management of chronic diseases.
  2. Promote public- private partnerships and collaborations. E-health and m-health applications require the expertise of ICT developers who should work closely with public health experts and end users.
  3. Needs assessment is a requirement when designing applications for a wide range of age groups. Different needs are found depending on the age of the end users (the needs and skills of 55 year olds are different to those of 70 year olds).
  4. Establish clear effectiveness indicators after a consensus process between all involved stakeholders – ICT developers and the private sector, healthcare professionals, end users and policy makers.
  5. Establish clear evaluation and other criteria for transferring pilot applications to larger implementation – think of effectiveness indicators and funding opportunities.
  6. All aspects of an e-health service should have a very clear goal in order to be beneficial for older adults with low health literacy. This group is unlikely to use e-health services if they are unsure about what they might achieve by using the service. Also, aspects that are purely for fun or decoration are often found to be confusing and distracting.
  7. Older adults with low health literacy will only continue using an e-health service for an extended period of time if they already perceive some benefits on a shorter term. If this group of users perceives insufficient short term benefits of using an e-health service, many of them will terminate their use.