Supporting Technologies

Consumer E-Health and Health Metrics

Consumer E-Health and Health Metrics

Over the past few years the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), which is part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, has increased efforts to enhance electronic access to health information, support the development of tools that enable people to take action with that information, and shift attitudes related to the traditional roles of patients and providers. (See  A national action plan to support consumer engagement in e-health)

Consumers are using technology to take control of their own health, whether by researching health conditions on the Internet, joining online support groups, or wearing smartwatches to track physical activity, calorie consumption, and even sleep patterns. In addition, validated surveys have been developed that enable physicians to obtain detailed information from patients about their physical or mental health that goes beyond basic measures such as weight, blood pressure, or blood sugar levels. This is partly because a person’s assessment of their own health can sometimes be more accurate than many objectives measures of health. (See Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HRQOL Concepts)

This section will:

  1. Describe the ways in which e-health tools are being used by consumers to support their health;
  2. Give examples of health metrics being used in doctor’s offices and other settings to better understand a patient’s health-related quality of life and general well-being.


E-health: The delivery of health information to patients and health professionals through the Internet and telecommunications, such as Internet research, online support groups, smartphone health and tracking apps, or smart scales that measure not only weight but lean fat and other measures. (World Health Organization)

Health metrics: A measure that helps one better understand the health of an individual or population. It is a way of discussing the “what” and “how much” of individual and population health.  For example, blood pressure is a metric of hypertension. This metric may be used to describe the health of an individual or a population, such as the percent of residents in a county who have high blood pressure, or conversely, who have their blood pressure under control.