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E-Patients Rising

A recent report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 61% of American adults are e-patients, meaning they look online for health information. In a presentation for the Medical Library Association Tri-Chapter Conference earlier this month, Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet Project, reported on what survey data indicated about questions like these:

  • What kind of health information do e-patients seek?
  • How many e-patients use mobile devices as opposed to more stationary computers?
  • How many use social media to connect with healthcare providers or other patients?
  • How many e-patients are also e-participators, meaning they create, tag, and share health content online?
  • How satisfied are e-patients with the information they find online?

Take a guess at what the percentages will be before you look at the slides. Any surprises?

Pew Internet also provides a useful typology of e-patients based on device preferences, online behaviors, and demographics. Are you a Desktop Veteran, or maybe a Roving Node? What about your library users or the people in your community you would like to reach? Understanding how your preferences may differ from theirs is an important first step in planning effective outreach.

3 Responses to “E-Patients Rising”

  1. Hope Leman Says:

    Hi, Alison. Thank you so much for a very important post. I have been to several conferences recently: Medicine 2.0, Health 2.0, the Connected Health Symposium and e-Patient Connections Conference 2009. At each of those I was privileged to hear e-Patient Dave speak. He is a remarkably incisive thinker on these issues and his keynote at the recent Medicine 2.0 conference (provocatively entitled, “Gimme My Damn Data!”) made a deep and positive impression on the attendees

    The slides can be viewed here:

    Dave is a key figure in this movement and he likes medical librarians! (And we like people like that.) He has helped found an important organization, the Society for Participatory Medicine:

    which has just released the inaugural issue of its journal (which itself is an interesting development on the Open Access landscape):

    I follow Dave on Twitter:

    and at his blog:

    He is a great speaker. Anyone organizing a conference on medical librarianship, healthcare IT, health content, etc. should ask him to come. He is that good.

    The participatory medicine/e-Patient movement is going to transform the American healthcare system in coming years, so thanks for giving us in the medical librarianship field a heads-up on it. Pew does indeed do wonderful work on these matters. I follow Pew’s Susannah Fox on Twitter. She is also a superb speaker and thinker on these issues:

    Here are some excellent resources from the analyst, Kevin Kruse (another key player and smart fellow). The video, the e-Patient Revolution is well worth viewing and can be found here:

    and his paper, Patients Rising: How to Reach Empowered, Digital Health Consumers can be downloaded for free here:

    And here is an up and coming library science student, Myrna E. Morales, to keep an eye on:

    She is working on a fascinating project on e-science at Simmons College.


  2. e-Patient Dave Says:

    Wow, Hope, that’s a heck of a comprehensive comment. You sure pay attention!

    Thanks for spreading the word about participatory medicine. I happen to be the vehicle for a message whose time has come. It’s a privilege and a pleasure for a speaker to have such a perfect topic fall into his lap… your keen support is appreciated.

  3. Hope Leman Says:

    Hi, Dave–and you are a superb speaker and a explicator of that topic.