HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Director, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government


Patients utilize vast amounts of information and technology tools to manage their health. When ill, people often turn to Google to learn about conditions associated with their symptoms. Newly diagnosed patients use online peer-to-peer communities to seek support and information. Patients log on to patient portals to access their lab results, review sections of their electronic health records, and communicate with providers through secure messaging. Wearable devices can be used to track activity and sleep and to monitor vital statistics (e.g., blood glucose) in real time, generating vast amounts of data that can be used to encourage healthful choices and manage certain chronic conditions. In recent years, communities of patients have shaped research agendas by donating their health data and prioritizing research questions that matter to their quality of life.


Fung, Archon. "A Taxonomy of Health Information Initiatives to Engage Patients: Objectives, Design Characteristics and Patient Activation." New England Journal of Medicine: Catalyst (August 21, 2019).