Annette McKinnon
"People who are well informed about their health do better in the long-term," says Annette McKinnon, a UHN patient and health blogger. (Photo: Courtesy Annette McKinnon)

UHN Patient Annette McKinnon knows first-hand how digital tools and technology can help people manage chronic health conditions.

"When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, no one had a personal computer," she says. "To learn more than my doctor had time to tell me, meant a trip to the library or luck in finding a magazine or newspaper article.

"Now I can find any information I want. Using the internet helps me to find support, connection, information and community. This means I now know what my doctors are talking about, and I can easily find other patients with similar experiences to 'talk' with."

Thursday, May 31 is Toronto's first Digital Literacy Day in Toronto, a day to highlight the importance of digital literacy and help spread the word about resources the city has to offer.

Digital Literacy means being able to use technology to solve problems, understand digital content and use digital tools. Digital Health Literacy can include how people find health information online, use web and mobile apps to manage their health and wellness, and connect with their providers and other patients online.

"With the rapid pace that technology is transforming our workplaces and social spaces, digital literacy is a critical skill set to learn," says Councillor Michelle Holland (Ward 35, Scarborough Southwest).

Annette agrees.

"People who are well informed about their health do better in the long-term," she says. "This applies to patients, caregivers and the health workforce – digital skills can help everyone best use technologies that enable the best possible healthcare."

Host of resources available for patients at UHN

UHN offers a number of resources to help UHN patients, families and staff access health information digitally:

As a UHN patient and health blogger, Annette shares tips for other patients looking for digital tools to help manage their health:

  • It's helpful to learn how to use digital tools, even if you don't have much experience using them. Your local library and UHN's Patient and Family Libraries are great places to get started. The Ontario Learning Hub has free online learning for people who are comfortable on a computer but want to learn more advanced skills.
  • Use the myUHN Patient Portal to manage your health: "I like to know my test results and what my doctors say in their reports. I can read the reports before appointments and look up anything I don't understand. I also have a list of my medicines saved on my desktop and take a copy with me to visits with new health professionals because it saves time," says Annette. To register for myUHN Patient Portal, ask for a registration code at your next visit or call myUHN Support at 416 340 3777.
  • To help find reliable health information, the UHN Patient and Family Libraries can help you search through a million Google results.
  • ​For a new health problem, start your search with the Canadian charity that is most prominent such as The Arthritis Society, Heart Association, Sjogren's Society of Canada, or your hospital website. These sources are reliable, and give people a good basic understanding of the issues.

To learn more about building your Digital Health Litearcy skills, visit or contact one of the UHN Patient & Family Libraries.

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