a word to all health communication professionals

September 1, 2010

in health communication

“If I’m a “regular” patient, I simply nod my head, take the next prescription, get a pat on the back, make the next appointment and hope (and even pray) that it’ll work.

This time.

When it doesn’t, I think: This is my fate. Or worse, maybe I’m imagining it (hail to the SSRIs).

But, I’m not a regular patient. I’m pissed and I want answers. Getting those answers is where all those “e’s” come in. I’m proud of those e’s. Proud to have stepped beyond a place of relative ignorance over the years in to something that is…yup, you got it: Empowered. Educated. Enlightened. E-cubed. E-patient.”

this fabulous quote comes from me—an ‘e-patient’—unedited. if you’re in any way involved with employee health and wellness, do yourself a favor and read it.


(hat tip to @epatientdave for sharing the link.)

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Monley September 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

before i saw your post here i was reading the health is social blog about the title e-patient (http://healthissocial.com/communication/citizen-patient-empowered-unempowered/).

how would you respond to being labeled ‘citizen’ instead of e-anything? do you tend to think that sender and receiver are on the same page on the meaning of the term e-patient?

(i’m practicing my lowercases on free-range communication)


fran September 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm

hey sarah.

kudos on your lowercase toe-dipping. how’s it feel?

i haven’t read the post you included, so thanks for pointing that out to me. you might enjoy reading this from 33 charts: is the e-patient revolution over? http://bit.ly/boZedn

like with most labels, the e-patient one seems to have gotten distorted or appropriated. personally, i opt for keeping things simple and understandable. nobody’s going to walk around and say that he or she is an e-patient. they’re going to talk about what they’re doing — understanding their needs, learning about others’ stories, finding out their options. i guess that’s why i opt for informed patient. or because i work with employers and employees, informed health consumer. it’s not perfect, either. it doesn’t really get at that extra “engagement” that e-patient means to infer. it’s also not as slick as e-patient, but it’s clear.



e-Patient Dave September 6, 2010 at 12:20 am

I’m thrilled that this conversation is moving out into the world!

There have been lots of discussions about whether the personal-politics implications of the word “patient.” Some say “consumer” is better, as in wised-up smart consumer / shopper of health services. Others respond, “Whoa – consumer denigrates us. We’re actually powerful participants in the care transaction.” And the circle spins: obviously “denigrate” isn’t the intent when someone’s thinking wised-up / empowered.

BUT, words do have impact: as the wise person said, “I don’t know what I said until I know what you heard.”

This is what prompted the now-huge discussion at e-patients.net (101 tweets, 64 comments) about e-patient and a *clearly* derogatory term used by Harris Interactive, “cyberchondriac.” (That’s the thread to which @DaphneLeigh was replying at the top of this post.)

And “until I know what you heard” is why when I speak on the subject, I always start with defining it, as I explained in a comment last week.

Good timing btw: Tonight some of us were tweeting about “what is empowerment” and how to awaken people to the possibility. Jody Sperber, of the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, quoted 20th century feminist Rebecca West, who said “I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the rationale for the e-patient movement (which I did NOT start btw), please see any of my recorded talks on my website.

(Now we’ll see if all the links get me marked as spam….)


fran September 6, 2010 at 2:40 pm

nope, you sailed right through. you would’ve had to mention porn or cheap drugs or tell me how fabulous i am to be marked as spam. thanks for adding some additional history and perspective.



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