RMIT: New European project to empower citizens to become savvy with digital health tools

The €2.7 million research project will create a digital health literacy strategy and transform how everyday citizens manage their healthcare.

RMIT Europe is one of 14 partners in Improving digital empowerment for active healthy living (IDEAHL), a project funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe program and coordinated by the Regional Ministry of Health of Asturias.

IDEAHL, which kicked off in May 2022, will develop a digital health strategy that promotes digital technologies and provides guidance to citizens in how to use them.

Online tools and electronic health resources have the potential to simplify interactions between patients and health professionals, help to detect and address preventable risk factors associated with diseases, and facilitate early treatment.

Despite these and other benefits, their widespread deployment has been constrained due to a lack of awareness and confidence in how to use the tools, and concerns related to the protection of sensitive electronic patient data.

To tackle such barriers, IDEAHL will use a collaborative co-creation approach to understand and address doubts and concerns, working alongside different stakeholders to develop and test online models and approaches to digital health.

More than 1,300 people representing the health and non-health sectors, civil society and patient groups as well as policy makers will be invited to take part in a 26-day program of face-to-face co-creation workshops and cross-border, online co-creation exercises.

Their feedback and inputs will feed into a new European strategy for improving digital health literacy, with a particular focus on social innovation to reduce health inequalities by ensuring that digital health tools and training are available to all members of society.

Actions from the strategy will be piloted in ten EU countries to evaluate how they work in practice and address the overarching project goal of encouraging citizens to take a more active role in the management of their own health and wellbeing.

SCIENCE
HEALTH
27 May 2022
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Online medical consultations help to simplify interactions between patients and doctors Online medical consultations help to simplify interactions between patients and doctors
“IDEAHL is investigating the most effective and user-friendly tools to help EU citizens lead healthier lifestyles and take control of their healthcare,” said Professor Kerryn Butler-Henderson, Director of the Digital Health Hub at RMIT University.

“We want digital health tools to be available to everyone, no matter their geographic location, gender, age, cultural background, socio-economic situation or health condition,” she said.

“By involving people from all parts of society in the project, we’ll uncover a diverse set of insights that will help us to create an impactful strategy that leaves no-one behind when it comes to digital literacy.”

Butler-Henderson will lead RMIT’s work on the project with the team at RMIT Europe.

Tasks include improving and updating the existing Health Literacy Atlas, a platform providing information on global health literacy that aims to assist policy makers and health practitioners when creating and implementing new guidelines.

RMIT will further contribute to an interactive map of Europe which visualises differences in health literacy across the region related to policy and socio-cultural aspects.

As an outcome of the 24-month project, IDEAHL hopes to encourage more European citizens and medical professionals to understand the potential of digital tools in the health sector, and enable more people to access and use this technology for the benefit of both their physical and mental wellbeing.



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