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An e-patient is a health consumer who participates fully in his/her medical care. E-patients see themselves as equal partners with their doctors in the healthcare process. E-patients gather information about medical conditions that impact them and their families, using electronic communication tools (including Web 2.0 tools).[1] The term encompasses both those who seek guidance for their own ailments and the friends and family members who go online on their behalf. E-patients report two effects of their health research: "better health information and services, and different, but not always better, relationships with their doctors."[2]

E-patients are active in their care and demonstrate the power of the Participatory Medicine or Health 2.0 / Medicine 2.0.[3] model of care. The "e" can stand for electronic but can also stand for:[4]

  • Equipped with the skills to manage their own condition
  • Enabled to make choices about self-care, finding that those choices are respected
  • Excellent patient-care
  • Empowered[5]
  • Engaged patients, engaged in their own care
  • Expert patient-care
  • Equals in their partnership(s) with the physician(s) involved in their care
  • Emancipated
  • Expert patients can improve their self-rated health status, cope better with fatigue and other generic features of chronic disease such as role limitation, and reduce disability and their dependence on hospital care.[5]
  • Evaluating. E-patients evaluate not only the information found but also the source of that information, be it a Web page, a peer, or a health care professional. This evaluation begins, and trust in sources is established, at an early stage.[6]
  • Equal. The e-patient expects to be an equal member of the team. There is evidence that when this situation is not encouraged by professionals, individuals develop mechanisms to manage situations that place them in a position of equal power at the expense of an open and honest relationship.[6]

Based on the current state of knowledge on the impact of e-patients on the healthcare system and the quality of care received:

  • A growing number of people say the internet has played a crucial or important role as they helped another person cope with a major illness.[7][8]
  • Since the advent of the Internet, many clinicians have underestimated the benefits and overestimated the risks of online health resources for patients.[9][10][11]
  • Medical online support groups have become an important healthcare resource.[12]
  • “…the net friendliness of clinicians and provider organizations—as rated by the e-patients they serve—is becoming an important new aspect of healthcare quality.”[13]
  • This is one of the most important cultural medical revolutions of the past century, mediated and driven by technology.[13]
  • In order to understand the impact of the e-patient, clinicians will likely need to move beyond “pre-internet medical constructs.”[13] Research must combine expertise from specialties that are not used to working together.[citation needed]
  • It is crucial for medical education to take the e-patient into account, and to prepare students for medical practice that includes the e-patient.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Masters K; Ng'ambi D; Todd, G (2010). ""I Found it on the Internet:" Preparing for the e-patient in Oman". SQU Med J. 10 (2): 169–179. doi:10.3923/jms.2010.169.175. 
  2. ^ Fox, Susannah; Fallows, Deborah. 2003. Health searches and email have become more commonplace, but there is room for improvement in searches and overall Internet access.
  3. ^ Eysenbach G Medicine 2.0: Social Networking, Collaboration, Participation, Apomediation, and Openness. J Med Internet Res 2008;10(3):e22
  4. ^ Kevin Kruse. "What do you mean, "e-patient"?". Blog.kruresearch.com. Retrieved 2013-09-13. 
  5. ^ a b Hoch, Dan; Ferguson, Tom (August 2005). "What I've Learned from E-Patients". PLoS Med. 2 (8): e206. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020206. PMC 1182328Freely accessible. PMID 16060721. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  6. ^ a b Hewitt-Taylor, Jaqui; Bond, Carol S (8 November 2012). "What E-patients Want From the Doctor-Patient Relationship: Content Analysis of Posts on Discussion Boards". Journal of Medical Internet Research. 14 (6): e155. doi:10.2196/jmir.2068. 
  7. ^ Finding Answers Online in Sickness and in Health, 5/2/2006, Pew Internet.
  8. ^ Eysenbach G (2003). "The impact of the Internet on cancer outcomes". CA Cancer J Clin. 53 (6): 356–71. doi:10.3322/canjclin.53.6.356. PMID 15224975. 
  9. ^ Jacobson P (2007). "Empowering the physician-patient relationship: The effect of the Internet". Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research. 2 (1). ISSN 1911-9593. 
  10. ^ Ahmad F, Hudak PL, Bercovitz K, Hollenberg E, Levinson W (2006). "Are Physicians Ready for Patients With Internet-Based Health Information?". Journal of Medical Internet Research. 8 (3): e22. doi:10.2196/jmir.8.3.e22. PMC 2018833Freely accessible. PMID 17032638. 
  11. ^ Crocco AG, Villasis-Keever M, Jadad AR (June 2002). "Analysis of cases of harm associated with use of health information on the internet". JAMA. 287 (21): 2869–71. doi:10.1001/jama.287.21.2869. PMID 12038937. 
  12. ^ Feder, Judith; Sands, Daniel Z. (2008-02-25). "A Reader and Author Respond to "ePatients: Engaging Patients in Their Own Care"". Medscape Journal of Medicine. 10 (2): 46. ISSN 1934-1997. PMC 2270894Freely accessible. PMID 18382715. 
  13. ^ a b c Ferguson, Tom; Frydman, Gilles (2004-05-15). "The First Generation of E-Patients: These New Medical Colleagues Could Provide Sustainable Healthcare Solutions". British Medical Journal. 328 (7449): 1148–1149. doi:10.1136/bmj.328.7449.1148. ISSN 0959-8138. PMC 411079Freely accessible. PMID 15142894. 

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