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ePatient 2010: Are You One?

I spent the last few days at the ePatient 2010 conference in Philadelphia, and one of the terms (surprise, surprise) that kept coming up was "epatient."  I've written about my take on the term "epatient" before, and was surprised to hear that there was a negative feel to the term, like it was overused.  And overplayed.  (Like Chumbawumba.)  

I turned to Facebook to see how my friends felt about the term, and the feedback was instant and mostly positive.  Facebook buddy and fellow ePatient 2010 attendee, Susannah Fox, connected with me after seeing the discussion and sent me a link to a discussion on her blog about the word "epatient" and how that movement is going through some growing pains. 

Far be it for me to be ahead of the curve (I just started tight-rolling my jeans), but I'm still comfortable with the term "ePatient."  I find it to be empowering - another "e" word - and having it as part of my identity makes me feel like I'm part of a very strong, very forward-thinking community.  Having lived with diabetes for ... forever, it seems, I am so appreciative of the changes taking place in patient care.  I like the broad stroke of support that the Internet provides for patients, and the power of connecting outside of the perimeters of your zipcode makes an enormous change in how I view my health.  As I said at the conference, "People with diabetes take drugs, test their blood sugar, watch their food intake, but emotional support is just as crucial as the insulin we take.  For me, it's part of my health."  Empowered, electronic, encouraged, engaged ... ePatient.

My friends in the Facebook circles had varying perspectives, but most of them seemed to feel empowered to be using online resources to manage their health - or the health of their loved ones.  Here are a few responses:

With all of these varying discussions about the term "ePatient," how do you feel that you fit into the mix?  Do you think the term is overused and now weak as a result?  Are you empowered by the term "ePatient?"  Or do you have an entirely different opinion to share?  Are YOU an ePatient?


In the past I would say- I am not an epatient. But a lot has changed. I am an epatient-I use the Internet to help me manage and understand diabetes better. I am the 4-E's you mentioned and I am also becoming a healthcare communication social media geek. I love it and embracing it all.

I think it's both empowering and sends a positive message that I am someone who is more proactive in my health than someone who simply does what the doctor says and never asks why or seeks more information for better understanding. For me, an ePatient is someone who is connected to their health and health care team and uses an array of information to help them manage their condition(s). That does not mean that they bypass trips to the doctor's office and rather just send an email. An ePatient reads, collects, deciphers, and applies information to their condition to improve their understanding and management of their health. I feel like the ePatient probably gets a lot more out of working with their health care team, and is more confident in staying on top of their condition.

I like the term "ePatient" (for now, at least)-- it means that you're willing to look beyond the doctor's office and take part in your own health care and well-being. For me, resources such as blogs, Twitter, TuDiabetes, and the DOC in general are becoming a supplement to the care I'm getting from my endo. They don't necessarily replace my endo's advice/treatment, but the DOC lives with diabetes as I live with it, whereas my doctor doesn't. Likewise, my doctor is also a licensed medical professional :)

That being said, I think a big part of being an ePatient is being able to find that healthy balance between your doctor's advice and the advice online. No one source is going to be right all the time, so it's up to me as an ePatient to crunch down all the information to something that works for me.

I find the various distinctions (epatient, web 2.0, healthcare 2.0) to be rather meaningless. It it what it is. And as long as the patients are the driving force, social media will continue to evolve into what each patient needs and those needs may vary from patient to patient.

Using the term "e-Patient" seems a little off because you are saying "electronic patient". While I am sort of robotic and electronic due to my pump being connected 24/7, I myself am not electric.
HOWEVER! I am open to the idea of what they are meaning by calling us an e-patient. In the words of my endo, "You use the technology given to you, and it's obviously worked well for you". I use everything - email, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, all to help me with my diabetes by supporting me and allowing me to support others. The info given can't take the place of my doctor's advice, but it can help me make an informed decision of whether or not to act on his advice or not.

I've never used the term E-patient. I never really thought of myself this way. But I guess it is true.. I do communicate between dr. appts through email with my dr. I am part of an online support community and I love that these people "get" it. Sometimes I prefer to log numbers and info with a plain old notebook, and other times I use online things. Kinda depends since logging is the bane of my existance.

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