e-Patient Dave deBronkart just published a guest post at his blog regarding whether the term “e-patient” has run its useful course and is an inaccurate descriptor because it continues and reinforces the mindset of people needing medical treatment (I use “treatment”, not “care”) as conditions rather than persons.
Finding right language can be crazymaking. Especially within the empowered patient community, and to a lesser extent within the medical community, the debate is on about what to call people in medical need.
Here’s what’s come to mind for me: Persient. That’s a person in medical need. A combination of person and patient. The ‘s’ remains because it emphasizes personhood whereas a ‘t’ would emphasize patient-hood—the very lens we want to remove from between medical providers and ourselves.
Some times we need new words. I caution—strongly—against concocting some hyphenated mongrelized identifier.
If you like this term, start using it.
I know how hard fomenting this sort of thing can be. A decade ago my start in this realm had me pondering why my family experienced a range of crummy things we did during both of my parents’ 3-week terminal hospitalizations. My root-cause analysis led me to identify, first and foremost, that we expected and were waiting for care, and that meant the care characterized by our experiences both as children/recipients and adult family caregivers. Because that was totally, thoroughly, 100% absent in our cognitive and felt hospitalized experiences, awaiting it was futile and dangerous (and the worst outcomes ensued from our passivity). So I no longer use care out of the gate, I use ‘treatment’ and ‘treatment group’ instead of ‘care’ and ‘care team’. In my post-crummy-hospitlized-experiences world, ‘care’ as a descriptor of services and people must be earned. Then I’ll use it. But I cannot get even my fellow outraged, engaged, tuned-in and turned-on fellow activist/advocates to flip this lingual switch.
But persient—this has potential.
What do you think? Want to start using it in your writing and speaking?