7 e-Patient Conclusions

Thanks to e-patient Dave’s reminder on the e-Patient blog

Here are 7 conclusions from the white paper that came out last year on this topic. Very important in diffusing some of the myths around the role of social networking in healthcare and the use of the Internet for information.

1. e-patients have become valuable contributors, and providers should recognize them as such.
“When clinicians acknowledge and support their patients’ role in self-management … they exhibit fewer symptoms, demonstrate better outcomes, and require less professional care.”

2. The art of empowering patients is trickier than we thought.
“We now know that empowering patients requires a change in their level of engagement, and in the absence of such changes, clinician-provided [information] has few, if any, positive effects.”

3. We have underestimated patients’ ability to provide useful online resources.
Fabulous story of the “best of the best” web sites for mental health, as determined by a doctor in that field, without knowing who runs them. Of the sixteen sites, it turned out that 10 were produced by patients, 5 by professionals, and 1 by a bunch of artists and researchers at Xerox PARC!

4. We have overestimated the hazards of imperfect online health information.
This one’s an eye-opener: in four years of looking for “death by googling,” even with a fifty-euro bounty for each reported death(!), researchers found only one possible case.

* “[But] the Institute of Medicine estimates the number of hospital deaths due to medical errors at 44,000 to 98,000 annually” … [and other researchers suggest more than twice as many]
* We can only conclude, tentatively, that adopting the traditional passive patient role … may be considerably more dangerous than attempting to learn about one’s medical condition on the Internet.” (emphasis added)

5. Whenever possible, healthcare should take place on the patient’s turf. (Don’t create a new platform they have to visit – take yourself wherever they’re already meeting online.)

6. Clinicians can no longer go it alone.

* Another eye-popper: “Over the past century, medical information has increased exponentially … but the capacity of the human brain has not. As Donald Lindberge, director of the National Library of Medicine, explains ‘If I read and memorized two medical journal articles every night, by the end of a year I’d be 400 years behind.”
* In contrast, when you or I have a desperate medical condition, we have all the time in the world to go deep and do every bit of research we can get our hands on. Think about that. What you expect of your doctor may shift – same for your interest in “participatory medicine.”

7. The most effective way to improve healthcare is to make it more collaborative.
“We cannot simply replace the old physician-centered model with a new patient-centered model… We must develop a new collaborative model that draws on the strengths of both systems. In the chapters that follow, we offer more suggestions on how we might accomplish this.”

2 Responses to “7 e-Patient Conclusions”

  1. hi there

    I discovered this blog on the wellsphere.com
    I am the PR Director of info-surge.com an online patient education company. I have discovered this term “e-patient” on this blog and I am very thrilled about it. I was wondering if we can use this term in our educational materials or articles. But first I need to understand to what exactly the term refers too. Maybe it can be applied to our patients who are educated by using an online patient education system.
    Thank you!

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