Healthcare technology jargon explained

A few weeks I had the pleasure of spending some time with my fellow occupational therapists (OTs) and we took a look at the digital health movement. When preparing for the session, I realised that my talk and accompanying material was laden with new terms, acronyms and jargon. I was a bit shocked at myself. I questioned how well I understood the terms I had absorbed into my vocabulary.

With every new movement, comes new terminology. Words and phrases that are used to entice, intrigue and capture a new following. Often these words become buzz words. The evolution of healthcare technology has been no exception. Some of these new terms have been borrowed from other industries; others have organically developed in this space.

To seek some clarification for myself and my fellow OTs, I drew up a table and brainstormed all the terms I thought as clinicians we needed to have a better understanding of. I then spent some quality time with my good friend Google. To make learning all a bit more fun, I made digital health bingo cards for the session.




(Picture from twitter @mjandison)


Here is a copy of the table of techy terms:




Big data


Extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.



An abbreviation for mobile health, a term used for the practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile devices.

Digital health, digihealth


A discipline that involves the use of information and communication technologies to help address the health problems and challenges faced by patients. These technologies include both hardware and software solutions and services.



Is a health consumer who participates fully in his/her medical care. Sometimes referred to as an "internet patient," they see themselves as equal partners with their doctors in the healthcare process.



The ability of different information technology systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged.

Electronic patient record (EPR)


Refers to the systematized collection of patient and population electronically-stored health information in a digital format. These records can be shared across different health care settings.

Health informatics

The study of resources and methods for the management of health information. This area of study supports health information technology, medical practice, medical research and medical informatics.

Data analytics


The process of systematically applying statistical and/or logical techniques to describe and illustrate, condense and recap, and evaluate data.

Application programme interface (API)


A set of functions and procedures that allow the creation of applications which access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service.



A self-contained program or piece of software designed to fulfil a particular purpose; especially as downloaded by a user to a mobile device.

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK. MHRA is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department of Health.

Conformite` Europeene (CE) Mark

Is a logo that is placed on medical devices to show they conform to requirements. It shows that the device is fit for its intended purpose stated and meets legislation relating to safety. It shows the product can be freely marketed anywhere in the European Union.



A facility allowing computers, smartphones, or other devices to connect to the Internet or communicate with one another wirelessly within a particular area.



The branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of genomes.



Equipment and services that support your safety and independence in your own home.  Combines equipment in your home with a 24/7 monitoring service.


A telecare user may activate their own alarm if they use a pendant. For those individuals who need more specialist help to remain in their own home, passive monitoring equipment is available.

Cloud computing


The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.

Internet of things


A proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.

Virtual reality

Not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so.



A category of technology devices that can be worn by a consumer and often include tracking information related to health and fitness. Gadgets include devices that have small motion sensors to take photos and sync with your mobile devices.

3D printing

A process for making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many successive thin layers of a material.

Precision medicine

An emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.

Point of care testing


Defined as medical diagnostic testing at or near the point of care—that is, at the time and place of patient care.

Cyber security

The protection of information systems from theft or damage to the hardware, the software, and to the information on them, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.


A system of signals used to represent letters or numbers in transmitting messages


Small sensors that can be swallowed that transmits data to an external  wearable patch or smart phone app


The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, to encourage engagement with a product or service


A URL is one type of Uniform Resource Identifier (URI); the generic term for all types of names and addresses that refer to objects on the World Wide Web. The term "Web address" is also a synonym for a URL.

Health Level 7 (HL7)

Refers to a set of international standards for transfer of clinical and administrative data between software applications used by various healthcare providers.


A computer or computer program which manages access to a centralized resource or service in a network.

(Source: Google)


Can you add a new word or concept to this list?

Melissa Andison


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