The growth in information technology has sparked various revolutions. It has led to breakthrough advances in the field of medicine and available treatment options. Patients are now demanding better services as well as hold an expectancy of being a part of the decision making process concerning their health.
Before the internet revolution, the knowledge of medicines and healthcare belonged exclusively to the doctors. Most patients held the notion 'Doctor knows what's best'. A patient would simply comply and listen to all the doctor had to say without questioning his judgment. However, the advent of the age of information technology has opened the door for vast amounts of knowledge to the common man.
E-Patient: the patient of the future
Numerous advances in technology and science have now opened doors for never before treatment options for patients. The number of patients using the internet on a daily basis is increasing exponentially. A number of people seek information about ailments concerning them or for their relatives or loved ones I n order to try and understand what could be troubling them.
Characteristics of an E-Patient
1. E- Patients are impatient: When it comes to e-patients, ready access to technology such as use of ATMs, internet banking, online payments etc are just at the click of the mouse button. E- Patients are used to this lifestyle. Just like these services, they wish to receive healthcare and medical related information as quick as possible.
2. E- Patients are well informed: E-patients have access to abundant information that is available over the internet. They wish to play an important part in keeping a tab on the health condition of their near and dear ones.
3. E- Patients form major healthcare lobbies: E-patients are up-to-date with the developments in the healthcare industry. Having access t latest developments in the medical domain may make it important for them to form a specify lobby for a given therapeutic area.
4. E- Patients are influenced by the internet: E-patients take healthcare decisions based on the amount of information available on the web. Various questions are addressed such as 'How to treat an illness?', 'What questions to ask the doctor?', 'Would a second opinion be necessary?' and 'when should one visit a doctor?'
The Positive Aspect
1. E-Patients are well informed and thus have better knowledge of their medical condition. This allows them to deal with it in an effective manner.
2. Participation in online support groups may acts as a source of motivation and provides those with serious medical conditions with encouragement.
3. E- Patients tend to ask more specific and informed questions to their doctors and hence comply with the suggested treatment.
4. Doctors too find it much more convenient to explain complex medical information to their patients than to those who don't use the internet.
It is of extreme importance that a doctor should react in a positive manner to the information provided by an E- Patient. It is wise to warn the patients about the inconsistencies and unreliability of the information present on the internet. Listen to your patients. They may provide valuable inputs to you. It will prove to be a very valuable tool in the process of medical marketing.