UCL Institute of Health Informatics


eHealth: Patients and the Internet

By eHealth, we mean the evolving field concerned with the use of information and communication technology to improve or enable personal and public healthcare. Increasingly, users of health systems need to have the knowledge and skills to play a more active role in their own care and to participate in decision-making. The importance of involving patients and the public in health-related matters has risen exponentially as the paradigm has shifted from Industrial Age Medicine to Information Age Healthcare. Information and communication technologies provide an unprecedented opportunity to deliver health education and information to consumers. Yet, at the same time, there is concern about the quality of the information being published online, the motives of those who become information suppliers, and the low levels of health literacy of some sectors of the population.

This module seeks to acquaint participants with the different facets of eHealth, by considering the health and social policy contexts within which eHealth is emerging and the ways in which patients’, consumers’ and professionals’ roles and perspectives are evolving. It encompasses the perspective of the main stakeholders: patients, carers, clinicians, patient groups, the NHS, and the private sector. The main aim of the module is to examine the information and education needs of patients, carers and citizens and to consider the role of information and communication technologies in meeting those needs. Issues to do with information quality, and the impact of changes in information provision on the ways in which healthcare is delivered and on health outcomes are central to the module.

Module code


UCL credits


Module organisers

Dr Henry Potts Please direct queries to courses-IHI@ucl.ac.uk


The module covers three major topics, which will be explored through the online and face-to-face learning activities.

  • Context of eHealth
  • Informing patients/citizens: Health Information Need and Quality
  • Impact and Health Outcomes

Teaching and learning methods

Blended learning: web-based distance learning in the UCL Virtual Learning Environment plus a 3-day face-to-face teaching session.


You are asked to produce a structured report, reviewing the quality and likely impact of health information and other online resources aimed at patients or the public.

Selected reading list

BMJ -  Look at the Medical Informatics section on bmj.bmjjournals.com
Journal of Medical Internet Research and many sub-journals
Pew Internet and American Life (This page lists all the health reports)
Picker Institute (Picker Institute Europe works with patients, professionals and policy makers to promote understanding of the patient’s perspective at all levels of healthcare policy and practice)
NHS Digital