Knowledge-Centered Health Innovation: The Case for Citizen Health Information Systems

  • Constantino T. Sakellarides
  • Ana Rita Pedro
  • Manuel Schiappa Mendes


Twenty first century health systems need to be organized differently – that means around the citizen user. This is a critical change in health governance. It is based on the fact that health is ever more knowledge- and literacy-dependent – and under these circumstances, citizen-centered health information systems, such as electronic personal health information systems, because of their high potential as powerful health literacy tools, are likely to become the sort of innovations that can play a major role in health system change. In fact, the health governance of the future cannot be imagined outside the realm of a “knowledge society,” where innovation is a key element.

Innovation refers to ideas, goods, and services, recognized as new and useful, that result from a creative process where knowledge is a key ingredient, implying strong social drivers and producing economic value. In this context it becomes clear that innovation is not, essentially, about technology. It is about creating value in the knowledge society. Some suggest that it is even more than that innovation is “the condition of survival in a changing environment.”

We are entering an era of massive access to health information, coupled with information-related electronic developments, that brought about the possibility to collected, organize, and use health information intelligently. Consequently, a transition from mass health information consumerism to a mass customization of health information is now taking place. Personal health information records are electronic information resources, owned and managed by individuals with the purpose of assisting them in making health decisions. They are practice-driven innovations, where knowledge is translated into a set of products, services and procedures in a way that is likely to result in health gains, to improve quality of care through better citizen’s involvement in the health care process, and to produce economic added value. But personal health information systems are not just about managing health information, they are also a tool for health and digital literacy and citizen’s empowerment.

Personal health information systems are innovation systems. They make little sense seen in isolation. Their development is shared by different agents involved as co-producers throughout the innovation process.

The developmental environment of electronic personal health information systems is particularly complex and includes many health systems facets and other relevant societal aspects: technologic markets and platforms, health professional information systems and practices, science systems, local health strategy networks, and health policy and information governance functions.


Health Information Health Literacy Knowledge Translation Personal Health Health Information System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Constantino T. Sakellarides
    • 1
  • Ana Rita Pedro
  • Manuel Schiappa Mendes
  1. 1.Escola Nacional de Saúde PúblicaPortugal

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