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This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, June 2017
See also eHealth | Electronic health records (EHRs) | Health 2.0 | Medicine 2.0 | mHealth | Medical informatics | Web 2.0
E-patients (also called Internet patients or Internet-savvy patients) are health consumers who use the Internet on a regular basis to gather information about health and wellness issues, and use electronic communication tools such as social media to manage their own health. The term comprises those who want to obtain online guidance for various health conditions and extends to friends and family members who may seek the information on behalf of patients. e-Patients report two outcomes for their online health activities: "better health information and services, and different (but not always better) relationships with their doctors."
The use of the phrase e-patient stands for "empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled." E-patients are often active in their own personal care and many of the activities they engage in demonstrate the power of participatory medicine, health 2.0 and its professional-based cousin, medicine 2.0. These patients demonstrate one or all of the following:
- Equipped with the skills to manage their own condition
- Enabled to make choices about self-care and those choices are respected
- Engaged patients are engaged in their own care
- Equals in their partnerships with the various physicians involved in their care
- Emancipated (freed from the hierarchies of medicine)
Expert e-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. The role of the e-patients in healthcare has received significant attention in both the social media and medical communities. Porter & Teisberg have said that patients are consumers of healthcare and, as such, have certain responsibilities, including:
- Participate actively in managing personal health and wellness. This includes taking responsibility for your healthcare, managing health-related decision-making, obtaining routine care and testing, complying with treatments and participating in disease prevention and management
- Expect relevant information and seek advice: gather information and experiences about medical conditions; seek advice in interpreting information from physicians and health plans; utilize evidence-based medical information
- Make treatment choices based on evidence, results and personal values, not convenience (or top down recommendation)
- Select healthy living based on research, your values and priorities
- Build a long-term relationship with your health team
- Act responsibly and accept responsibility for health and wellness
Key e-Patient websites
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- Office of the Auditor General of Canada. Report of the Auditor General of Canada. Electronic Health Records. 2009.
- Rainie L. The rise of the e-Patient: understanding social networks and online health information-seeking. Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. May 5, 2011.
- Schweitzer J, Synowiec C. The economics of eHealth and mHealth. J Health Commun. 2012;17 Suppl 1:73-81.
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- Wikipedia. E-patient. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-patient