An E-patient, also called an Internet patient, tech-savvy patient or virtual patient, is someone who uses the Internet as a health informatics tool. E-patients use the Internet to conduct research, communicate with healthcare providers, and interact with other patients. This helps patients become more informed and active in their medical care. The rise of the E-patient is believed to be changing doctor-patient relationships as well as the healthcare industry as a whole.
One of the most important characteristics of an E-patient is the eagerness to research and understand different medical conditions. In the past, patients primarily relied on their healthcare providers to diagnose, treat and inform them. Patients are now using the Internet to diagnose their symptoms, research treatment options, and understand different medical conditions. Instead of solely relying on their physicians, E-patients are more active in their medical care. These patients are more equipped to ask the right questions and work with physicians to manage their condition.
An E-patient is also one that actively uses telehealth services. Many E-patients communicate and consult with healthcare providers by e-mail or through online medical consultation services. These services allow patients to ask questions, seek second opinions, and sometimes receive diagnoses from certified physicians. Some patients also book doctor appointments, view test results, and purchase medication online.
In addition to communicating with healthcare providers, an E-patient might also use the Internet to interact with other patients. After being diagnosed with a medical condition, patients often join support groups and seek encouragement from their peers online. Many patients also communicate in online forums and through social media. These platforms give patients the opportunity to ask questions, get advice from their peers, and share important information regarding healthcare providers and services.
The increasing availability of online information is believed to be changing the relationship between doctors and patients. In the past, the doctor-patient relationship was defined by the patient relying solely on his or her doctor for information, guidance and treatment. E-patients are now taking more active roles in their care. As patients become more educated, they are able to approach medical treatment as equals to their healthcare providers.
E-patients are also changing the healthcare industry by demanding more access to online resources. A greater number of hospitals and medical facilities are making test results and medical records available to patients. Many healthcare providers have made it possible for patients to book appointments, contact their physician, and pay medical bills online. Physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers are also taking more active roles online by advertising their services, answering patient questions, and ultimately giving patients more access to virtual healthcare.