Today’s e-Patient

I decided to blog about e-Patient and being one such typical person, I googled term “e-patient” and was surprised to find an entry for e-patient on wikipedia. As that write-up says, it stands for patients who feel they are enabled to find the best solution/care, equipped with skills to manage or handle their condition, and feel that they be provided all the information and treated as a partner by their provider. They are also likely to demand higher engagement with their healthcare providers.

Now the first question is how many of them are possibly e-patients? In the US, research suggest about 60-65% of the total population would have e-patient characteristics. In India, this number in cities maybe about 20% but growing rapidly with increasing access to internet with 3G, multiple choices for providers and insurance companies to assist them and the general awareness through media and friends.

Now lets look at what an e-patient typically does.

  • Research on internet for hours about all possible causes of the health condition
  • Meet the family doctor close to home
  • Find “experts” in the area through internet research and friends
  • Meet 2-3 “experts” before zeroing on the one person
  • Make lists of all possible cases, causes to quiz the doctor to confirm his interpretation and ideas
  • Confirm next steps in terms for watch lists and action items
  • Use an online system to access doctor (if available) for better comfort and dialogue

The increasing portion of e-patients and their expectation means that the healthcare providers need to think about the following areas to cater to them:

  • Expect higher level of engagement and time needed during the visit
  • Patience to understand the situation and answer all the queries
  • Provide patients sufficient information during and after the visit
  • Become visible on the internet (mobile device) and build online reputation / manage feedback
  • Build a communication channel with patients (for after visit care)
  • Treat the person (instead of just the disease focus) with doctor playing the role of an advisor and psychologist.

The last point applies to situations when the e-patient is misinformed, tried to over interpret the information, indulges in self medication, too scared based on the online access to information. But managing e-patients and being equipped to support e-patients has become important for all healthcare providers.

About Anil Kumar

I am the CEO of SmartRx. I am very excited about our mission to enable Patient Centric Care. I plan to share with you company happenings, our ideas and progress from our mission. I am also founder of Pragna Technologies (into HR services) and prior to that AskMe (in KM space; acquired by Realcom). I have worked at Microsoft, Siemens prior to those (ad)ventures.
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9 Responses to Today’s e-Patient

  1. Odell Notice says:

    Appreciating the commitment you put into your site and detailed information you offer. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material. Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  2. may uusberg says:

    We have public healthcare in Ontario, but doctors are not that accessible for those who work 9-5. That is another reason for the e-patient.

  3. I have just published a book: e-Patients Live Longer, The Complete Guide to Managing Health Care, Using Technology. Everything you describe in your blog is right on. Overall the mission of my book is to help people become e-patients by providing them with the guidelines they need to take charge of their health care, communicate more effectively with their health care providers and become empowered to manage their health over the long term. I talk about how to use technology that we all use every day as tools that assist us to become empowered and participatory in our health. Could someone be an e-patient without technology. Certainly, individuals can be empowered, engaged and educated in many ways but technology such as the web, email, e-visits, digital health records and portals enable us in this effort. Those of you who are interested in e-patients may want to check out the Society of Participatory Medicine, the blog and my own blog basics. blogspot. com for more e-patient advice and tips. BTW Dr. Tom Ferguson first coined the term e-patient and his white paper is at the Society of Participatory Medicine website.

  4. 81% of the American public now regularly searches online for their medical information. We are now at a time when patients are playing the pivotal role in their own care and need healthcare providers as translators for what they read and hear.
    (posting something on the internet after all, does not make it true)
    The patient is forming his/her own medical team with the providers as guides through the process.

    This is in keeping with the e-patient blog that that you discuss.
    I have written a book about this on called
    Power to the Patient: The Medical Strategist
    by Barbara Hales, M.D.

    Hugh discounts for bulk purchases but many bonuses. Check it out!

  5. Its wonderful as your other blog posts : D, regards for putting up.

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