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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