In an epoch where shared decision making is gaining importance, a patient's commitment to and knowledge about his/her health condition is becoming more and more relevant. Health literacy is one of the most important factors in enhancing the involvement of patients in their care. Nevertheless, other factors can impair patient processing and understanding of health information: psychological aspects and cognitive style may affect the way patients approach, select, and retain information. This paper describes the development and validation of a short and easy to fill-out questionnaire that measures and collects psycho-cognitive information about patients, named ALGA-C. ALGA-C is a multilingual, multidevice instrument, and its validation was carried out in healthy people and breast cancer patients. In addition to the aforementioned questionnaire, a patient profiling mechanism has also been developed. The ALGA-C Profiler enables physicians to rapidly inspect each patient's individual cognitive profile and see at a glance the areas of concern. With this tool, doctors can modulate the language, vocabulary, and content of subsequent discussions with the patient, thus enabling easier understanding by the patient. This, in turn, helps the patient formulate questions and participate on an equal footing in the decision-making processes. Finally, a preview is given on the techniques under consideration for exploiting the constructed patient profile by a personal health record (PHR). Predefined rules will use a patient's profile to personalise the contents of the information presented and to customise ways in which users complete their tasks in a PHR system. This optimises information delivery to patients and makes it easier for the patient to decide what is of interest to him/her at the moment.
Keywords: patient empowerment; personal health record; psycho-cognitive models.