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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 the Internet and other digital tools.[1] The term encompasses 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 has also been used to refer to other terms, such as "equipped", "enabled", "empowered" and "expert".[4][5]

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

  • A growing number of people say the internet played a crucial or important role as they helped another person cope with a major illness.[6][7]
  • Many clinicians underestimated the benefits and overestimated the risks of online health resources for patients.[8][9][10]
  • Medical online support groups are an important healthcare resource.[11]
  • “…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.”[12]
  • According to one study, the advent of patients as partners is one of the most important cultural medical revolutions of the past century.[12]
  • In order to understand the impact of the e-patient, clinicians will likely need to move beyond "pre-internet medical constructs."[12]
  • Medical education must adapt to take the e-patient into account, and to prepare students for medical practice that includes the e-patient.[1]

A 2011 study of European e-patients found that they tended to be "inquisitive and autonomous" and that they noted that the number of e-patients in Europe appeared to be rising.[13] A 2012 study found that e-patients uploading videos about their health experienced a loss of privacy, but also positive benefits from social support.[14]

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. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Finding Answers Online in Sickness and in Health, 5/2/2006, Pew Internet.
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ 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). doi:10.21083/partnership.v2i1.244. ISSN 1911-9593. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ Santana, Silvina; Lausen, Berthold; Bujnowska-Fedak, Maria; Chronaki, Catherine E.; Prokosch, Hans-Ulrich; Wynn, Rolf (2011-04-16). "Informed citizen and empowered citizen in health: results from an European survey". BMC family practice. 12: 20. doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-20. ISSN 1471-2296. PMC 3101118Freely accessible. PMID 21496309. 
  14. ^ Gómez-Zúñiga, Beni; Fernandez-Luque, Luis; Pousada, Modesta; Hernández-Encuentra, Eulàlia; Armayones, Manuel (2012-04-25). "ePatients on YouTube: Analysis of Four Experiences From the Patients' Perspective". Medicine 2.0. 1 (1). doi:10.2196/med2.2039. ISSN 1923-2195. PMC 4084771Freely accessible. PMID 25075229. 

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