“I noticed that my spellchecker doesn’t recognize ‘subprime’. […] I am guessing that will be remedied soon.
“in the Beginning”
Stephen J. Dubner; 09/30/2008

This is so true! Just like e-patient and participatory medicine! None of these terms have made their way into the vernacular. But my uneducated guess is that subprime will find its way into the next upgrade of the Word dictionary faster than e-patient will. Nothing like an intense crisis to help you diversify your vocabulary!

Just remember 2 years ago. You had probably never heard of a subprime mortgage. Then starting on Feb. 7, 2007 things suddenly changed for all of us. And since then, in order to try making sense of the daily flow of news we have had to learn a brand new dictionary and a full alphabet soup: CDOs, CDS, CPFF, EESA, GSEs, LIBOR, OSI, PDCF, PWG, SPV, TAF, TSLF, TARP, to name just a few. I’m sure some readers will think my list is a bit much and anyway, what does it have to do with e-patients?

The larger than life financial events unfolding daily in front of us are forcing us to apply, to what has become an urgent financial situation, the same methodology the e-patients have learned in order to better deal with their medical condition. The American public is clamoring for more and more information, just like anyone just diagnosed with cancer will in the first few months following diagnosis.

When joining an ACOR group allmost all new subscribers have never heard of ABX-EGF, ATN-161, Phase I trial, 5FU, DCIS, MEN, MSI,PET scan, HD-IL2 or TNM to mention just a tiny portion of the terms needed to become a cancer e-patient.

The financial crisis leaves us with 3 choices: deny it, pay no attention to it or learn as much as possible about it in order to make what we try to be informed decisions. Those are the same exact choices faced by patients dealing with a life-threatening condition. e-patients, who by definition chose the 3rd choice, have decided to become informed after they were hit with their own health crisis. We tend to believe that for many of them this choice has some positive implications, at least on their quality of life, often on the quality of care and at least sometimes on their survival. The parallel is surprising and I wonder if the ACOR subscribers are dealing with the effect of the financial crisis in different ways from the rest of the population because they have already learned to deal with a life-threatening situation.