Intended for healthcare professionals

Editorials

The first generation of e-patients

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7449.1148 (Published 13 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1148

e-patients virtual communities and medical deprofessionalization!

Sir;

Like in any branch of sciences and humanities, medical sciences have
rightly attempted to pace with the rapid and highly effective developments
in medical health informatics for the benefits of human life. Proper
utilization of health information available at many
e-sites comprising of millions of virtual health communities [1,2] and
others is extremely vital to e-patients, who can have rapid lively
discussions and interactions with their quasi-medical colleagues and
medical personnel for their own and others medical benefits. Most relevant
point is that almost all these virtual communities, which provide free
access to the e-audiences including patients, patients organizations,
doctors and paramedical workers are under the supervision of and managed
by qualified medical health professionals and paramedical colleagues.
Rather this is the beauty of these e-patients sites, which indeed
encourage peer to peer effective and meaningful communications and mutual
multiple advantages including psychosocial supports.

Most importantly, any confusion or misunderstanding arising from such
e-communications, I feel should be referred to only highly qualified
physicians and consultants who are mostly the managing personnel of such e
-patients group sites. Thus, professional consultants are contacted
sparingly and most of the medical, social, psychological, cultural and
other types of help including technological help is provided by patients
colleagues and patients themselves. Partial deprofessionalization is one
of the healthy consequences of e-patients group sites and virtual
communities. We as a medical professional encourage such effective
developments.

The true marital relationships between biopsychosocial and
information technological developments is going to last forever, which
offer tremendous benefits for humans in particular patients and their
carers.

References:

1. Tom Ferguson and Gilles Frydman. The first generation of e-
patients. BMJ 2004; 328: 1148-1149

2. Gunther Eysenbach, John Powell, Marina Englesakis, Carlos Rizo,
and Anita Stern. Health related virtual communities and electronic support
groups: systematic review of the effects of online peer to peer
interactions. BMJ 2004 328: 1166-0.

Competing interests:
Supporter of e-patients communities and groups

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 May 2004
Dr.Naseem A. Qureshi, MD, IMAPA, LMIPS
Medical Director(A), Director Of CME&R
Buraidah mental Health Hospital,POB.2292, Saudi Arabia