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Consumer eHealth

Person at the Center

While the concept of “patient-centered health care” has been emerging over the past decade, there is vast distance between that concept and a truly “person-centric” vision that embraces the value of the individual inside and outside the health care system for improving both health and health care. Within health care settings, the person is often a recipient of health care services rather than an active partner with the health care provider and care team. This dynamic limits the opportunities for people to manage their own health and to share in care management when interacting with their health care providers. Changing the paradigm to a person-centered vision is vital to improving health and health care outcomes.

Proposed Vision

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is offering a proposed vision of how health IT can support a paradigm shift over the next few years to facilitate effective health management by individuals, their caregivers, and their health care teams. By 2020, ONC envisions that: 

The power of each individual is developed and unleashed to be active in managing their health and partnering in their health care, enabled by information and technology.

Core Values

The proposed vision is underpinned by several core values centered on the person:

  • Individual self-determination and the public good are both optimized.
  • People can decide whether and how much to participate in managing their health and health care.
  • People can access wellness and health care services enabled by technology that reflects their individual needs, values, and choices.
  • Health care is a partnership between the patient, their caregivers, the care team, and supporting services.
  • Information is shared, as appropriate, between the individual and all their care partners to enable informed, participatory decision-making as desired by the individual.
  • Everyone who holds information about an individual exercises responsible information stewardship.
  • Easily used and useful, trusted tools are available to support the person’s decision-making.


Three overarching goals result from the proposed vision:

Goal 1:  Increased self-management and prevention

Goal 2:  Seamless interaction with the health care system

Goal 3:  Shared management of health care

By 2020, technology will support the goals in the following ways:

Goal 1:  Increased self-management and prevention

  • Empower and enable individuals to make healthier choices and to manage any health conditions.
  • Make prevention part of day-to-day life.
  • Motivate policymakers, employers, and other stakeholders to establish guidelines and environments that promote and support healthy behavior and self-management of conditions.

Goal 2:  Seamless interaction with the health care system

  • Enable smooth, easy interactions and seamless transitions as the individual moves between wellness and self-management activities, and participating in the health care system.
  • Soften or erase the boundaries between what occurs inside and outside of the health care system by promoting increased information flow and empowering people to perform on their own some of the activities that now occur only in formal health care settings.
  • Allow “light touches” with the health care system when needed, e.g., interacting remotely in some situations rather than always in-person.

Goal 3:  Shared management of health care

  • Support more partnering of the person with his or her care team within the health care system through shared decision-making.
  • Support and integrate caregivers appropriately into the care team.
  • Encourage providers to value patients and their data, viewing them more holistically and longitudinally. 

Development Process

In 2014, ONC published an issue brief [PDF - 295 KB] that summarizes the above information as well as current related activities underway at ONC and other organizations. The issue brief also describes opportunities, challenges, and next steps toward achieving the vision.

In 2013, with the support of a contract with Westat, ONC held a two-day, in-person workshop of thought leaders from across the nation; conducted several online advisory group meetings; and completed a white paper [PDF - 424 KB]. ONC then held a roundtable with additional thought leaders to further develop strategic policy statements that build on the previous work; these statements are included in the opportunities section of the issue brief.

Planning is underway for future activities to further develop the health IT policy framework outlined in the white paper and issue brief, enhance the visibility of this topic, promote nationwide dialog, and catalyze change among stakeholders involved in the health of the U.S. population.