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e-Patients: How they can help us heal health care

Ten years after the untimely death of “Doc Tom” Ferguson, who predicted the e-patient movement, we’re publishing on this site the full text of the manifesto he was working on at his death: “e-patients: how they can help us heal health care?” The insights, statistics, and predictions, all gathered in the first years of this century, have proven remarkable.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio, the paper was completed by his colleagues and published a year after Tom’s death. Read more about it in this blog post.

e-Patient Dave, Chair Emeritus of SPM and one of its 12 co-founders
April 2016


  • Foreword, by Lee Rainie and Susannah Fox
  • Introduction
  • Preface
  • 1. Hunters and Gatherers of Medical Information
  • 2. Content, Connectivity, and Communityware
  • 3. Patient-Centered Networks: Connected Communities of Care
  • 4. The Surprisingly Complex World of e-Communities
  • 5. e-Patients as Medical Researchers
  • 6. Learning from e-Patients
  • 7. The Autonomous Patient and the Reconfiguration of Medical Knowledge
  • Afterword–2013
  • About the Author
  • About the e-Patient Scholars Working Group

Epigraph at start of the paper:


…[When patients] participate more actively in the process of medical care, we can create a new healthcare system with higher quality services, better outcomes, lower costs, fewer medical mistakes, and happier, healthier patients. We must make this the new gold standard of healthcare quality and the ultimate goal of all our improvement efforts:

Not better hospitals.

Not better physician practices.

Not more sophisticated electronic medical systems.

Happier, healthier patients.

                                                   —Charles Safran

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