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Giving meaning to “E-Physician”

Posted on Thursday, 14th October, 2010


We are all in agreement that “e-anyone” is pretty mainstream these day as it relates to uptake of utilizing digital technology and channels to further our communication and content consumption efforts along the healthcare journey.

Most are past proclaiming that “e-anything” means “I use a mobile device” OR “I use the Google machine”.

That’s a given. Cost of entry for communicating these days.

Mind you, this does not remove the need and importance for us to understand the generational segments, content consumption and communication preferences in order to for us to optimally foster a 2-way engagement model with our target audiences.

But can we just all agree that it’s bigger than that?

It’s a mindset.

A mindset for the best route of “decision administration”.  A collection of knowledge surrounding the everyday decision making process taking the patient experience into consideration–beyond the block and tackle treatment paradigm of assessing lab results, prescribing a regimen and calling it a day.

In a recent post on Kevin MD (@KevinMD) written by Martin Young, (@MartinYoung) an otolaryngologist and founder of ConsentCare he puts the “E” in perspective by establishing a lexicon for the term “E-physician” that goes beyond the utilization of technology.

equipped” – get a computer on your desk, an iPhone, iPad or equivalent, and a Twitter or Facebook account so you can access the same information resources to stay ahead of what is going on in the e-Patient movement – not for confrontational purposes, but so that you can meet the new expectations of these highly driven and proactive patients

enabled” implies you know how to use this information and technology as a means of improving and addressing your needs

engaging” with your patient, so that there is common ground, and you know where your patient is getting  information or support – some of which you may need to correct or advise against if you believe it is incorrect.

empowered” suggests that this new style of engagement needs to be looked at very carefully by doctors working  for institutions which have rules for use of social media, blogs etc by their doctors. Some of those rules may have been set by those who have no knowledge of social media and the new frontier it presents.  Empowered implies changing that balance.

emancipated” implies being freed from the traditional way of practicing medicine, in my opinion by the use of technology – online appointment systems, pre-consultation questionnaires, EMR’s and other advances.

e-consultation” – many trail blazers are already hard at work in this area – redefining the doctor-patient relationship, and removing the need for face-to-face consultations for routine medical care.

equals” – the e-Patient is a consumer with equal rights.  Perhaps here is the hardest adjustment for doctors to make.  Patronizing models of doctor-patient relationship will just not work.  The knowledge base is not equal, neither is the experience, nor expertise – but the relationship should be.  Perhaps “balanced” relationship is the best way to say this.

empathy” – the e-Patient movement, as it appears today, appears to best serve the interests of those with chronic illnesses, where there is time at hand.  I think we doctors have little idea of what it is like to live with pain, discomfort and fear for days and weeks on end.  Until it happens to us.  I see throughout the movement a call to doctors to “walk in our shoes for a little bit, and see what … (name your disease) … is like.”  I also see a reluctance by doctors to do so as being the reason so many e-Patients are so angry with their former doctors.

Worthwhile considerations for all of us on the same path to helping HCPs enhance their treatment decision making process and simplify the health journey by improving care through a consideration set that now includes much more than just a medical degree to do so.


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