Digital Health
Topic write up

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s medical research agency — making important discoveries that improve health and save lives. NIH is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers, each with a specific research agenda, often focusing on particular diseases or body systems.

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) is to transform through engineering the understanding of disease and its prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment.

If there is one overarching trend to all the advances in medical technology, it is the personalization of medicine and treating individuals as such. Source: The Ten Hottest Medical Technologies in 2019


Discover How Technology Is Changing Medicine.... and Library Service

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced libraries temporarily to close, the virus also created an opportunity for libraries to demonstrate their increasingly important role as partners for healthy communities.

Libraries can play a crucial role in helping their patrons access quality online health information by:

  • Providing access to computers and high-speed internet
  • Helping users develop the digital literacy skills needed to use the computer (e.g., how to use a mouse)
  • Helping users develop the necessary skills to evaluate online health information resources

Digital Skills

The World Health Organization defines digital health literacy as the ability to seek, find, understand, and appraise health information from electronic sources and apply the knowledge gained to addressing or solving a health problem.

However, the Pew Research Center reports that the internet is the de facto choice for more than a third of U.S. adults searching for medical information. And did you know that a Google search for "cancer" will produce over 800 million results? That is an overwhelming amount of information! No wonder millions of Americans struggle to find and use online health information.

Laptop screen displaying the words Health Literacy

From accessing your personal Electronic Health Record (EHR) to using telehealth for a routine medical visit, digital health literacy is increasingly integrated into our everyday lives. Visit NNLM All of Us Digital Health Literacy and NNLM All of Us Learn Internet Skills to discover resources, including digital health literacy training curricula and courses, to help individuals in your community become more skilled and knowledgeable technology users.

Guides & FactSheets


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports that more than 21 million Americans lack broadband access, and Pew Research reports that 77 percent of Americans without Internet access depend on libraries. So it was fortunate that when libraries closed due to the pandemic, they did not stop providing this essential service. Libraries extended remote access coverage outside the building. While sitting in a parked vehicle or on a park bench, communities continued to access free WiFi to complete homework or upload job applications.

Wearable Devices

If you thought libraries only loaned books and DVDs, think again. Library of Things often includes health technology such as Fitbits. Learn how libraries are incorporating wearable devices into their health outreach programs: Summit Fitbit CohortsCapital Area District Libraries, and Huron Public Library.

3D Printing

CreativeMaker Spaces in public libraries were enlisted for the emergency manufacture of face shields that were in short supply during the COVID-19 outbreak. Using 3D to Make PPE: Library resources help create much-needed face shields by Cass Balzer. American Libraries. April 3, 2020. The Columbia University Libraries even created an online resource, ​Guide and Design for Rapidly Produced Face Shields.

Featured Books
Title: Deep Medicine
Author Eric Topol, MD
Publisher Basic Books
Year published 2019
Book image Deep Medicine book cover
Title: The Digital Doctor
Author Robert M Wachter, MD
Publisher McGraw-Hill Education
Year published 2017
Book image The Digital Doctor book cover
Title: The Future of Health Care
Author Emmanuel Fombu, MD, MBA
Publisher Athena Publishing
Year published 2018
Book image The Future of Health Care book cover

Terms of use: Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) staff offer these health discussion resources for educational use. The materials included do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the author, publisher, or the sponsoring agencies of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).