Crowdsourcing Curriculum on Consumer Health Informatics

What do you think should be included in a course in Consumer Health Informatics (CHI)  in a graduate medical informatics program?

I know a graduate curriculum begging for input from the most engaged and empowered consumers, patient advocates, and technology and health professionals – passionate about participatory medicine.

As faculty Oregon Health Science University, Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology, I’ve been asked to teach the CHI course. The class was developed by Holly Jimison, now at Northeastern University. Offered online this spring to graduate students in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing, it will be taken primarily by students getting a masters or doctorate in medical informatics. Students access lectures and other materials online through Sakai, participate in online forums and submit papers and presentations over a 12 week period.

Consumer informatics changes rapidly, so it’s challenging to stay up-to-date (like computers, it can get stale as soon as it walks out the door).  I’ve been editing course content and updating lectures, but all during this process I thought == how can I get the voice of consumers and advocates in the curriculum?  Answer: ask them!

What would you include in Consumer Health Informatics graduate curriculum?

Here’s a description of the class, and list of topics.  Feel free to comment about key areas of interest and less important topics, great content that you’re aware of – slides, videos, TedX talks, whatever. Of course if you really have something to say, contact me directly at – guest speakers welcome!

It would be great to start a discussion == I’ll make sure this  DISCUSSION is part of the students’ exercise! :-)

Description: This course focuses on the intersection between consumers, information technologies and health care. CHIT explores the design, use and impact of emerging technologies that aim to engage consumers to participate in their health and health care. We review trends, opportunities and challenges in consumer-facing health IT, taking the perspective of various stakeholders in particular consumers, patients & caregivers.

Draft Topics:

  1. Overview of Consumer Health Informatics
  2. Empowered consumers & ePatients (Tom Ferguson & SPM)
  3. Trends in consumer technology and health IT
  4. Quality of Health Information, information search
  5. Barriers to access; literacy & eLiteracy and learning styles
  6. Chronic conditions; disability
  7. User Design; Vocabulary; Pubic Reporting; Data visualization
  8. Personal health information, privacy & security
  9. Personal health records & portals, eHealth tools
  10. Health Information Exchange
  11. Patient-Clinician Communication; OpenNotes & Blue Button
  12. Ethics; Workflows; Patient Generated Data
  13. Caregivers; Peer to Peer Support
  14. mobile Health; Quantified self
  15. Research and systematic reviews; Consumer Meaningful Use
  16. Professionalism; Patient satisfaction


Hey Teacher, what’s in your wallet?


Posted in: general | pts as teachers




5 Responses to “Crowdsourcing Curriculum on Consumer Health Informatics”

  1. Hey Susan,
    Great work. We’d also be happy to contribute knowledge and expertise on understanding pricing. Shouldn’t people know that MRI could cost $395 or $6,221? A simple blood test, $12 or $127? We’ve got data on common “shoppable” procedures, on Medicare reimbursement rates (the closest thing to a fixed or benchmark price) and we’re working on a database of big-ticket items. We also have smart consumer advice. Happy to talk any time! cheers jeanne

    • Susan Woods says:

      Thanks, Jeanne. Information on costs is probably the last bastion of information, and sorely needed. Making direct costs and allowances transparent will drive disruption and change. If you have specific ideas on how to weave this into curriculum, feel free to contact me directly at

  2. Sandy Saperstein says:

    I teach a course called “Introduction to Public Health Informatics,” but we spend a fair amount of time on CHI topics. I have much overlap with the topics you listed. I try to include hands-on activities (e.g. using and critiquing a behavior change app/website, improving readability of information) where possible. Would be happy to discuss more!

    • Susan Woods says:

      Hi Sandy, thanks for your work in Public Health Informatics. Consumer informatics cuts across several domains – PHI, Human Computer Interaction, Ethics and Clinical Informatics. Agree it’s best to have students use, review and critique current sites and apps. Will connect with you!

  3. Ted Eytan says:

    Dear Sue,

    You are the perfect person/physician/expert to teach a course like this, for many reasons.

    If I can recommend that students read the 1973 article “giving the patient access to his…” because it really gets at the issues of the problem we’re trying to solve, physician autonomy issues, and whether or not things have change (some have, some, sadly have not). Great discussion piece to give people thought for the future. I reviewed here:

    Now Reading: “Concern that sharing information with patients may cause sustained psychological distress is probably unfounded” | Ted Eytan, MD

    You could access Regina Holliday and my TEDtalk around the “why doctors would partner with patients” – just google “Embrace of Failure”

    Finally, or I should say, in addition, talk about what happens when consumer health informatics goes terribly wrong. Read this piece written by Jess Jacobs, about a medical practice that uses the technology, but doesn’t communicate. “Doing it” doesn’t count if you’re not actually helping people, because this isn’t about technology, it’s about communication.

    I was asked just yesterday by some very smart people, “What do you think is the most disruptive technology in the next 10 years of medicine?” and I’m sticking to the same answer I would have given you in 2008 : listening.

    And hey, we’ve arrived, they’re letting you teach the next generation! You did this,


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