Health literacy

Health literacy for patients — the Charité approach

Digital health literacy in Germany

The Ger­man health­care sys­tem is in the mid­dle of the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. In order for this process to be suc­cess­ful, cit­i­zens must also be able to use dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion and offers prop­er­ly. Dig­i­tal health lit­er­a­cy plays a key role in this.


Gen­er­al dig­i­tal health lit­er­a­cy com­pris­es indi­vid­ual, social and tech­ni­cal skills and resources that are impor­tant for search­ing, find­ing, under­stand­ing, eval­u­at­ing and apply­ing dig­i­tal­ly avail­able health infor­ma­tion. It is a dynam­ic con­cept that is close­ly relat­ed to the life­long learn­ing and empow­er­ment approach. Dig­i­tal health lit­er­a­cy takes into account the con­tin­u­ous devel­op­ment of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies. It is intend­ed to enable cit­i­zens to use dig­i­tal health appli­ca­tions to increase their self-effi­ca­cy and to lead a self-deter­mined life with a high qual­i­ty of life.

Why is that important?

Dig­i­tal health lit­er­a­cy is a cru­cial key qual­i­fi­ca­tion for respon­si­ble cit­i­zens and patients. The demands on users to deal with dig­i­tal online ser­vices and in gen­er­al with dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies are already very high today. Since the entire health­care sys­tem is in the mid­dle of the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion, these require­ments and also the com­plex­i­ty will pre­sum­ably increase in the future. It is there­fore all the more impor­tant to pro­vide all cit­i­zens with easy access to reli­able, qual­i­ty-assured and lay-under­stand­able infor­ma­tion. This is an indis­pens­able basis for cit­i­zens to be able to accept inno­va­tions such as elec­tron­ic patient files, e‑prescriptions or video con­sul­ta­tions and use them for themselves.

Cur­rent­ly, how­ev­er, the range of dig­i­tal­ly avail­able health infor­ma­tion is like a jun­gle. The amount of infor­ma­tion to be found on the net is hard to keep track of. For exam­ple, a user on Google will find a good 400 mil­lion hits under the search term health, the top­ic nutri­tion brings almost 100 mil­lion and the term sleep comes up with a good 30 mil­lion results. Many of the hits found are dif­fi­cult to under­stand, often they are con­tra­dict­ing, of ques­tion­able qual­i­ty or sim­ply wrong. This mis­lead­ing is espe­cial­ly crit­i­cal because it is about health. In addi­tion: the net­work is full of inter­est-based infor­ma­tion of unclear ori­gin. That is why it is impor­tant that patients and read­ers use the inter­net com­pe­tent­ly and dig­i­tal­ly. Thus, in addi­tion to state-spon­sored sites such as or, oth­er net­works can also make their con­tri­bu­tion to edu­ca­tion and information.

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