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Yearb Med Inform. 2012;7:70-3.

Giving patients choice and control: health informatics on the patient journey.

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NHS Choices, Department of Health, Skipton House, Elephant and Castle, London SE1 6LH, United Kingdom. E-mail:



In modern society, people expect to be actively informed and engaged in decisions about their own health care. Developments in health informatics for patients are increasingly enabling digital solutions to supporting a culture of shared decision making between patients and clinicians. In England, the national patient portal NHS Choices has pioneered patient access to information, with the objectives of achieving significant volumes of use and delivering measurable benefits for patients and the healthcare system.


Opportunities for patients to use online information and transactions exist along the patient pathway, utilising a variety of methods including using online symptom checkers to manage minor ailments, choosing health services informed by metrics about the quality of service provided and patient comments, through to care delivered online.


Independent evaluation of NHS Choices has indicated that the website is effective in reducing primary care consultations for minor ailments through providing information on appropriate self care. Further research is demonstrating that the collective voice of patients, expressed through online ratings and comments on care received, has a good correlation with more objective, quantitative measures of provider quality.


NHS Choices has achieved high volumes of public use (15 million visits a month) and positive impacts for patients and the health care system. A new information strategy for health and social care in England published in 2012 sets the way ahead for the future of informatics for patients and the public.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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