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An e-patient is a health consumer who participates fully in his/her medical care. Sometimes referred to as an "internet patient," 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) in coping with medical conditions.[1] The term encompasses both those who seek guidance for their own ailments and the friends and family members (e-caregivers) 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 are demonstrating 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 and those choices are respected.
  • Empowered[5]
  • Engaged patients are engaged in their own 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. This refers not only to the information e-patients find, but also to the source of that information, be it a Web page, a peer, or a health care professional. It also suggests that 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 from this study[clarification needed] that when this situation is not encouraged by professionals, individuals develop mechanisms to manage situations that place them in a location of equal power, but without the open and honest relationship that is also valued.[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 1182328free to read. 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 2018833free to read. 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 2270894free to read. 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 411079free to read. PMID 15142894. 

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