Becoming an Empowered E-Patient

As healthcare providers increasingly store your medical records electronically, new opportunities are presented for patients to take responsibility for their health. Here's how.

What's the Latest Development?

As medical records are increasingly digitized, you will have access to more of your own health data. But with ease of access comes a greater responsibility to take control of your health. A good first step, says health care professional Fred Trotter, is to find an e-patient community that shares your particular symptoms and can contribute their experience to the advice of your medical professional. Communities such as PatientsLikeMe are busy building social networking tools to better facilitate the transfer of medical information between patients.

What's the Big Idea?

When it comes to becoming an empowered e-patient, there are two kinds of people, says Trotter. There are those in crisis mode and those in maintenance mode. For those in maintenance mode (without an illness), begin familiarizing yourself with e-patient meeting places like the Society for Participatory Medicine. If you have been recently diagnosed with a disease, resist the temptation to let the medical industry just push you along. Find a community of people who share your values and who are living with the consequences of the choices you are about to make.

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