There’s a conversation brewing over use of the term ‘e e-patient.’ The online health revolution is over, it’s been suggested. Web use, after all, has become so widely adopted that the term ‘e-patient’ may have more historical meaning. Dropping the ‘e’ might indicate that we’ve arrived.
I’m not so sure.
Perhaps the revolution we thought was going on never entirely took off. Or maybe it’s all about how you define the revolution.
Here’s what I see: Day in and day out over weeks and months hundreds of patients visit my clinic. I talk to them candidly about the tools they use and how technology and community is changing how they see their problems. I do the same with friends and family members. And like it or not, they’re a lot closer to 1.0 than many of us would like to think.
Crowdsourcing, record portability, user-generated health and even simple patient communities are things that many are likely unable to define, and even less likely to use. I’m saying nothing of their capacity. Many patients I speak with have no idea of their capacity. And empowerment is irrelevant to a patient unaware of their potential.
We need to be careful not to assume that the voice of a remarkably engaged minority of patients represents the voice and understanding of patients everywhere.
There’s a lot more work to be done before claiming any kind of victory. I wouldn’t be quick to drop the ‘e’ in e-patient and may suggest that in many cases it has yet to be added.