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Differences between Health Literacy, Health Information and Information Technology

Info: 1832 words (7 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 2nd Jun 2020

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Tagged: nursing informatics


This paper highlights the differences linking information and health literacy, and information technology (IT) skills, giving cases in point of the three and outlining how each is significant to advanced practice nursing. While information literacy involves locating and processing medical data for the patient’s good, its health equivalent entails acquiring skills that diminish patient health risks or increase their quality of life. On the other hand, information technology skills are the abilities involved in the creation, design, and application of healthcare technology. Incidentally, encouraging advanced practice nurses to develop IT skills, together with information and health literacy, via lifelong education and training improves their preparedness for the modern work environment. The three abilities also enable APNs to enhance service delivery by increasing medical services utilization and self-care for chronic infections. Thus, the three forms of literacy should be integrated into advanced practice nursing to improve patient outcomes and enhance provider performance.

Differences Between Health Literacy, Health Information, and Information Technology.

Information technology significantly impacts how the modern healthcare system operates. In this regard, patient care has become an important focal point in the formulation of guidelines concerning new healthcare procedures and technologies. Thus, advanced practice nurses and other healthcare professionals should possess information technology skills, health literacy, and information literacy to enable them to improve patient outcomes (Kleib, Simpson, & Rhodes, 2016). For instance, information literacy is useful in evidence-based practice as it involves anchoring clinical practice in research evidence. Similarly, health literacy is essential in the healthcare systems as it assists in planning service delivery in a balanced manner and promotes sound decision-making when it comes to patient care and healthcare system administration. This essay highlights the differences involving information literacy, health literacy, in addition to information technology skills, while outlining the relevant cases in point and explaining how each concept positively impacts advanced practice nursing. Although the three types of abilities are slightly different from each other, they should be integrated into advanced practice nursing to improve patient outcomes and enhance provider performance.

Information Literacy

Information literacy refers to the ability to realize when information is required and locate, assess, and utilize it. An advanced practice nurse who is information literate not only uses the available facts to meet both professional and personal demands but also engages in lifelong learning (Liou, Yu, Tsai, & Cheng, 2015). They are also able to identify and analyze information sources. Several sources of information exist, but not all are trustworthy or dependable. Thus, discovering how to discern which sources should be applied to clinical decision-making is a vital skill for advanced practice nurses as it directly impacts the health of their patients. Moreover, information literacy is a process with several steps that should be followed when an advanced practice nurse is handling a patient. These steps include knowing the need for information, creating a searchable statement or query followed by organizing and performing an investigation into it, obtaining the required data, arranging, processing and assessing the retrieved facts, using the understanding acquired in client care, and reviewing patient outcomes (Liou et al., 2015). Examples of information literacy include conducting evidence-based research, participating in critical thinking processes, and engaging in problem-solving and decision-making during clinical practice.

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The use of new clinical evidence is important in establishing and sustaining competence in the advanced practice nursing career. Thus, the current shift toward evidence-based care and practice makes it necessary for all advanced practice nurses to become information literate and develop themselves through lifelong learning. This approach demands the use of proven methodologies in disease management and treatment. Thus, acquiring information literacy enhances an APN’s ability to improve their decision-making, research, and problem-solving skills, besides encouraging them to engage in lifelong learning in their professional and personal lives.

Health Literacy

On the contrary, health literacy refers to the skills that enable one to search, understand, assess, and apply health concepts or facts to make informed decisions, minimize health risks, and increase patients’ quality of life (Sørensen et al., 2015). Incidentally, people’s health literacy abilities can differ based on different healthcare experiences. This phenomenon is founded on an individual’s knowledge of health care settings, educational and health care organizations, and various cultural and social variables. Health literacy impacts patients’ capacity to involve themselves in the self-management of chronic infections, comprehend mathematical aspects, such as risks and statistics, and share personal data like their health profile with healthcare providers. Examples of health literacy are numeracy skills, such as dispensing medication, comprehending nutrition labels, and computing blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

Health literacy is a sweeping priority, and it is critical to the professional lives of advanced practice nurses. APNs are positioned to offer care that facilitates effective communication and coordination and that is linguistically and culturally considerate of every client (Sørensen et al., 2015). When the advanced practice nursing professionals are trained on the implications of low health literacy and given chances to incorporate health literacy ideologies, they are able to offer patient-focused care that nurtures positive patient experiences, besides improving their safety and outcomes. Another significance of health literacy to the advanced practice nurse is that it improves access to services utilization, which also enables patients to safeguard their wellbeing (Fernandez, Larson, & Zikmund-Fisher, 2016).

Information Technology Skills

Conversely, information technology (IT) skills constitute the knowledge, expertise, and talents associated with the application, management, creation, structuring, design, and administration of healthcare technology. Examples of IT skills include patient data mining, coding of data and information, service management, patient information security, and testing. IT skills increase an APN’s chances of enhancing the safety, quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of health care. Rendering quality health care requires that healthcare providers and patients combine complex information from different origins (Kleib et al., 2016). Thus, the capacity to retrieve and pool critical patient information has a positive correlation to effective service delivery.

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IT skills also enable advanced practice nurses to gather, keep, restore, and exchange information electronically. In this regard, the professionals depend on the suggestions of other providers when attending to patients. Incidentally, knowledge sharing is useful since it enables one to assign medications that are in line with the patients’ clinical requirements. Furthermore, IT skills allow advanced practice nurses to keep abreast of new disease-related information. In addition, they enable the systematic management of medical data and information and the safe diffusion of such facts between healthcare users and advanced practice nurses (Jeon et al., 2016).

Moreover, it is not easy for advanced practice nurses to keep up with industry changes and hence comprehend what they imply for the care of particular patients. Thus, IT-based decision support systems are useful in such situations as they enable APNs to discover new treatment mechanisms (Kleib et al., 2016). APNs’ potential to remember patients’ issues is also limited necessitating the use of technology to keep up with emerging trends.


Although they are slightly different from each other, information and health literacy, and information technology skills should be integrated into advanced practice nursing to improve patient outcomes and enhance provider performance. Information literacy is the ability to realize when information is required and locate, assess, and utilize it effectively with one of the examples being evidence-based research. Acquiring information literacy enhances APNs’ decision-making and problem-solving abilities, besides enabling them to be responsible for sustained learning in professional and personal aspects. Conversely, health literacy comprises the various skills, such as numeracy skills, which APRNs need to search, understand, assess, and apply health concepts for purposes of improving their patients’ health status. It also increases services utilization and promotes the care and self-care of chronic infections. Conversely, information technology (IT) skills, such as data mining and coding among others, include the knowledge, expertise, and talents employed in creating, designing, and administering different healthcare technologies.


  • Fernandez, D. M., Larson, J. L., & Zikmund-Fisher, B. J. (2016). Associations between health literacy and preventive health behaviors among older adults: Findings from the health and retirement study. BMC Public Health16(1), 596.
  • Jeon, E., Kim, J., Park, H., Lee, J. H., Kim, J., Jin, M., … & Jung, H. (2016). Current Status of Nursing Informatics Education in Korea. Healthcare Informatics Research22(2), 142-150.
  • Kleib, M., Simpson, N., & Rhodes, B. (2016). Information and communication technology: Design, delivery, and outcomes from a nursing informatics boot camp. Online Journal Issues in Nursing21(2). Retrieved from http://ojin.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol-21-2016/No2-May-2016/Information-and-Communication-Technology.html
  • Liou, S. R., Yu, W. C., Tsai, H. M., & Cheng, C. Y. (2015). Teaching information literacy in nursing using blended learning pedagogy. Creative Education6(13), 1446-1455.
  • Sørensen, K., Pelikan, J. M., Röthlin, F., Ganahl, K., Slonska, Z., Doyle, G., … & Falcon, M. (2015). Health literacy in Europe: Comparative results of the European health literacy survey (HLS-EU). European Journal of Public Health25(6), 1053-1058.


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