Internet in Medicine Course: E-patients and Medical Communities

I launched the world’s first elective course at a medical university focusing on web 2.0 and medicine for medical students in 2008. This is the 4th semester and the 5th week was dedicated to e-patients and medical communities. Here is the outline of my presentations.

First slideshow: The world of e-patients

  • Who is a good patient? (referring to I am a good patient, believe it or not; Alejandro R Jadad, Carlos A Rizo, Murray W Enkin; BMJ 2003;326:1293-1295 (14 June), doi:10.1136/bmj.326.7402.1293 )
  • Types of patients: the powerful other; external controller, internal controller or google patient or brainsucker or googlers
  • An e-patient is equipped, enabled, empowered, engaged, equal and expert.
  • Examples (5 stories) including and
  • What do e-patients use? Websites (Web MD), blogs (,; Second Life (Healthinfo Island), services ( or
  • Community sites:
  • Featuring the research they’re doing
  • real-time chat
  • biggest diabetic community
  • What to do with medical charts and papers? Introduction to the world of personal health records (Google Health, Microsoft Healthvault).
  • How does a community work? I posted a message on Twitter, Kerri replied to it and made a video message for the students.

Many thanks to e-Patient Dave deBronkart who also had his voice heard:

[vimeo 10444174]

Other videos from e-patients:

  • Statistics about how patients use the web (source is Pew Internet Project Survey)
  • How to help e-patients as doctors (don’t use jargons, be patient, show credible sites focusing on medically reliable information)
  • How to judge the quality of a medical website, step-by-step

Take-home message:

Physicians of the 21st century must be qualified to meet the expectations of e-patients. They’re the new generation of patients.

Second slideshow: Doctors in social media

  • What is social media?
  • Traditional vs social media (pros and cons)
  • I have an opinion and post it online, but others have their own opinions as well
  • It becomes hard to find information and we need places/sites where information is collected and selected by other experts and collegues.
  • How to find a collegue or get answer for a medical question? By using telephone, Google or Facebook? Certainly not…
  • We need medical community sites
  • Examples:,, Nature Network and many more.
  • Microblogging (Twitter and Friendfeed)
  • Advantages of medical communities, disadvantages

Take-home message:

Without properly designed strategy, don’t even think about using social media in your practice.