How to become a more engaged e-patient

Written by  Facing Cancer Together
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“An e-Patient is someone that is empowered, engaged, equipped, and enabled,” says Christine Amy from Aligning Forces for Quality --- South Central Pennsylvania.

Amy works to help people become better so-called “e-Patients” by using technology to stay informed about their health.  Scroll down to watch the video.

Amy highlights some of the characteristics of an engaged patient:


They are empowered: they know that they need to be engaged in their healthcare.
They’re engaged: they’re actively working with their healthcare system to better their health.
They’re equipped: they have the right tools. They know where to get information, either at a portal that has their lab results, or they know how to go to the right websites.
And they’re enabled,: they’re able to do all these things and do them over time.

A patient may be concerned about the quality of the information they are finding online. To that, Amy says, “I always recommend people to look at the website—if it has a lot of advertising, what’s the end of the website? Is it .gov, is it .org? Is it an association that takes care of individuals that have a disease, like the American Diabetes Association? Is it a governmental site? There’s the site that has a lot of information.”

One person who turned to the web when facing a tough diagnosis is Dave deBronkart. He was diagnosed with late-stage kidney cancer a few years ago and read up on his condition online. He blogs about the importance of patients getting involved in their own health care as “e-Patient Dave.”  Read his blog.

connect-epatient“I was an engaged patient long before I knew the term ever existed,” Dave says. “To me, it was just the way anybody sensible would be if they were buying a car or a TV set or anything. I wanted to understand as much as I could and talk to my professionals.” Dave says, “How can you tell an empowered person from a disempowered person? A disempowered person says, 'Well, there’s nothing I can do.' An empowered person says, 'What can I do?' They know what they want and they speak up. As great as medicine is, and I am alive today because of great medical science, there is still, patients are still the most underused resource.”

Amy agrees. She says, “If you want to become more engaged in your healthcare, you need to ask your provider, your doctor or your nurse, how to do that, and they have a lot of resources that can help you.”

Keys to becoming a better e-patient:

  • Educate yourself
  • Be empowered 
  • Ask questions 
  • And, go out of your way to make sure that you get the care that you want

Do you feel that you're engaged in your healthcare?  What can you improve upon?  Please share your thoughts in a comment.

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