Health data can be a powerful tool for improving health information literacy. By understanding your health data, you can make informed decisions about your health and or that of a loved one.
What is Health Data?
Health data refers to any data describing a person’s health, their healthcare, or anything affecting any health issues or diseases they may have. It can be collected by healthcare organizations and professionals, about individuals (“personal health data”) or populations (“population health data”).
What is Health Information Literacy?
Health information literacy is the ability to:
- identify a health information need
- access, find, or obtain that information
- understand and use that information to make good health decisions
It is also about exchanging healthcare information, and how people communicate about health through speaking, drawing pictures, and using technology.
How Can Health Data Improve Health Information Literacy?
Understand health trends
- Health data can help you understand the prevalence of certain health conditions in your community or in the wider population. By analyzing trends over time, you can identify areas of concern and take steps to address them.
Evaluate health claims
- Health data can evaluate the accuracy of health claims. For example, if a product claims to reduce the risk of heart disease, you can look at health data to see if there is evidence to support this claim.
Identify risk factors
- Health data can help individuals identify risk factors for certain health conditions. By understanding the factors that contribute to a particular condition, individuals can take steps to reduce their risk.
Make informed health decisions
- Health data can help you make informed decisions about your health. For example, if you are considering a new weight loss or exercise program, you can look at health data to see if there is evidence to support its effectiveness.
Types of Health Data Providing Information About Your Health & Public Health
- Surveys can provide information about health behaviors, health status, and access to healthcare. For example, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that collects information about health behaviors such as smoking, physical activity, and alcohol consumption.
- Vital statistics include data on births, deaths, and marriages. This data can provide information about population health trends, such as changes in mortality rates or causes of death.
Electronic health records (EHRs)
- EHRs contain medical information about patients. They include your medical history, diagnoses, and treatments. This data can monitor your health over time and identify patterns of care.
Health insurance claims data
- Claims data can provide information about healthcare utilization and costs. This data can identify areas where costs can be reduced, such as unnecessary tests or procedures. By analyzing these data, researchers, policymakers, and individuals can identify areas where costs can be reduced.
Environmental health data
- Environmental health data can provide information about how environmental factors, such as pollution, impact health. For example, air quality data can be used to understand the health impacts of air pollution. By analyzing these data, researchers, policymakers, and individuals can make informed decisions about how to improve health outcomes.