Are you an ePatient?

Tech Term Tuesday.  Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending SXSH: Sharing. Exchanging. SocialHealth. A summit of professionals from a diverse cross section of disciplines coming together with patient advocates to understand and better utilize the tools of social media for advancing healthcare and wellness. One of the keynote speakers was Dave deBronkart, a cancer survivor, patient advocate and blogger who is known in the webosphere as “ePatient Dave.” His formal presentation was then followed by a more informal (unconference, if you will) breakout discussion facilitated by two talented patient bloggers, Jenni Prokopy and Kerri Sparling. The session quickly evolved into a lively discussion and good-natured debate on what it means to be an ePatient and how physician-patient communication can be improved. This all raised the very obvious question in my head, “Exactly, what is an ePatient?” According to Dave deBronkart, the late Dr. Tom Ferguson “said e-patients are empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled.”

ePatients are active and participatory where traditional patients are passive. Image by jscreationzs.

After my day at SXSH and perusing searches of #SXSH and #ePatient on Twitter, I’d like to add my own take on the definition of ePatient. It’s a  double entendre that refers to electronic patients (or patients in the webosphere) but it also refers to empowered patients. Patients who, through their education and engagement in communities of patients both online and in the real world are empowered to take an active and participatory role in their healthcare.  I would therefore refine Dr. Ferguson’s definition— e-patients are educated, empowered and engaged. The key here is education. What are you doing to educate yourself so that you can be an active participant in your healthcare? If you need help getting started, refer to any of the health guides on this site.

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3 Responses to “Are you an ePatient?”
  1. Thanks for helping to bring balance to this issue. In an age of information, self-diagnosis is a real danger. The real key is to use information weather gained through internet search, conversations with family or friends, or second opinion to engage meaningful conversations with our healthcare providers. Conversations that truly answer pertinent questions, provide stimulus for taking a closer look (ie. is the diagnosis truly a horse–something common or a zebra–something not so common), and providing resources to help us not only manage our physical health but cope with the social-emotional consequences that come along with any given condition.

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