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The Rise of the ePatient

This week, I am attending the 2nd Annual ePatient Connections conference in Philadelphia. Last year’s inaugural event was a milestone for me – it brought me into contact with patients in a new way, people who live with medical conditions and who are the ultimate “customers” for the medicines produced by pharma companies.

I have to admit that we who work in and around the industry have stayed far too long in our little bubble. It’s very easy to think far too much of efficacy stats, market share, regulatory concerns, marketing messages….and utterly forget about the people who are on the receiving end. Some of whom remain alive today because of these meds.

In recent days, I’ve heard some skepticism about the rise of the ePatient, and I understand it. Have things REALLY changed THAT much in the average patient-doctor interaction? Probably not – but it’s not averages we should be thinking about. It’s the broader trends that make this ePatient revolution a reality.

In short:

– since doctors have less and less time to get real in-depth with each individual, patients and their caregivers MUST do more legwork on their own;

– an amazing wealth of medical information (some good, some bad) is now available to anyone with a computer and internet access;

– patient communities are springing up all over via social networks, where peer-to-peer care and information-sharing is occurring outside of any “official” medical boundaries;

– the older population, which is the biggest demographic for using prescription drugs, is also a very rapidly-growing demographic in the adoption of social networking.

This blog post (including brief video and SlideShare), called The New Normal, explains more about these trends shaping the industry. Suffice it to say that I don’t think anyone in our industry should have their head in the sand about empowered patients. It’s not a fad. It’s an inevitability.

If you wish to follow the Twitter stream from the conference (there will be many reporting “live” via social media Tues and Wed), you can use this link: ePatCon TweetChat.

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