A smart healthcare marketing blog
November 2011

The difference between patients and e-patients

e-Patients, otherwise known as internet patients, are health consumers who use the web to find information about certain medical conditions.

These savvy surfers also use electronic communication to source information for family, friends and their own ailments.

e-Patients are equipped, enabled, empowered, engaged, equals, emancipated and experts.

e-Patients report two outcomes of their health information searches ::

  1. better health information and services
  2. different [not always better!] relationship with their doctor

How do patients differ from e-patients?

Patient e-Patient
passive role active [engaged] role
information provided to them seek out information [on the internet]
top down delivery of healthcare partner in healthcare
“paternalistic” medicine “participatory” medicine


Emerging e-patient activities ::

  • 47% of adults have used the internet to get information about doctors or other health professionals
  • 41% have read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group or blog
  • 38% have gotten information about hospitals
  • 33% have gotten information about how to lose or control their weight
  • 27% have gotten information about health insurance
  • 24% have consulted rankings or reviews online of hospitals
  • 12% have gotten information about how to stay healthy on an overseas trip
  • 24% have consulted rankings or reviews of doctors
  • 19% have signed up to receive updates about health or medical issues
  • 13% have listened to a podcast about health or medical issues
  • 5% have reviewed a doctor
  • 4% have reviewed a hospital

* Data is extracted from the Pew Internet and Life Project Report


I like your article. To further your reseach a survey on doctors opinions of e-patients would be a valued addition. I have found with my own clients, doctors are less favorable with a e-patient knowledge because either they do not want to hear the additionals questions or just don’t have the time nor desire to compete with the internet diagnostic. Some doctors have replied kindly to my clients and some not so kindly. I encourage my clients to be a partner in their own wellness, ask questions for clarity. I believe all patients should and would be participating in their own wellness if the doctor encouraged and faciliated that comfort however insurance companies and financial structures hampers the quality of time the doctor can spend with the patient. If you do such a survey let me know I have clients that would participate.

Hi Nicola

Thought this was a very interesting article. I was wondering if we could use it as a guest post on our patient blogging site

This means we could get a patient reaction

You might also want to take a look at the Society for Participatory Medicine to see where the term e-patient came from and learn more about how to be an active engaged member of your own health care.

This is great. But how do providers welcome e-Patients and encourage their patients to become e-Patients?

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