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Interactive health communication (IHC) can be defined as the interaction of an individual--consumer, patient, caregiver, or professional—with an electronic device or communication technology to access or transmit health information or to receive guidance on a health-related issue.  For the purposes of this site, this definition does not include electronic applications that exclusively focus on administrative, financial, or clinical data, such as electronic medical records, dedicated telemedicine applications, or expert clinical decision-support systems. Some applications, however, integrate some of the above functions with health communication.

IHC applications are the operational software programs or modules that interface with the end user rather than the hardware and infrastructure technologies that run or disseminate these applications.  


  • health web sites
  • online chat groups
  • listservs and news groups
  • stand-alone kiosks, and
  • CD-ROM applications


  • relay information
  • enable informed decisionmaking
  • promote healthy behaviors
  • promote peer information exchange and emotional support
  • promote self-care, and
  • manage demand for health services

Source:  The Science Panel on Interactive Communication and Health, October 1997