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What the "E" in E-Patient Really Means

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, May 28, 2013

Here are a few more top takeaways from Let Patients Help!:

  • "In my view, treatment goals should arise in discussion between clinicians and patients." A laudable goal, but the devil is in the details. "Doctors only prescribe the standard of care about half the time," deBronkart says, and he punctuates this with a harrowing story of a patient who didn't receive the vaccines recommended after having a spleen removed, with dire consequences. "What if his family had Googled splenectomy, and said, 'Wasn't he supposed to get some vaccines?'"
  • "There's too much for anyone to know everything, even your doctor." Years ago, a white paper by Doc Tom quoted Donald Lindberg, Director of the National Library of Medicine: "If I read and memorized two medical journal articles every night, by the end of a year I'd be 400 years behind." Years later, Lindberg told deBronkart the situation today is "much worse."
  • "The Internet lets patients see information their doctors might not."
  • "Let patients check the entire medical record, then fix any mistakes the patients find."
  • "Clinicians should change shifts at the bedside."
  • "They can't control costs if we hide costs from them."

On this last point, the recent publication of hospital costs by CMS may lead to a patient-fueled Cambrian explosion of apps devoted to helping patients compare those costs. There's precedent for this, when Web programmers "mashed up" geographic data with crime data to vividly inform citizens about the distribution of crime. There is no reason not to expect CMS data to be similarly mashed up in the months ahead. Soon, such mashups will be available on mobile phones, ready to be used for everything from a standard doctor visit to comparing costs of ER visits to urgent care visits, perhaps at locations across the street from each other.

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2 comments on "What the "E" in E-Patient Really Means"


Lori (5/31/2013 at 12:35 AM)
A most excellent article. I have included a link to it in my latest post.

Derek Forman (5/28/2013 at 1:52 PM)
Great article, right to the point, the more informed patients are the the more empowered and engaged they become-all leading to a greater partnership in their care. I just downloaded the E version of "Let Patients Help!" and look forward to a great read!!