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When Dave deBronkart was told he was dying, he went online, linked up with other cancer patients, and found a life-saving treatment his doctors hadn’t heard of, writes Geraldine Betz

He was told there was a drug treatment — high-dosage interleukin — which sometimes worked against advanced kidney cancer. The online community even gave him the names and phone numbers of doctors in his area who offered the treatment. Supported by his own doctor he underwent treatment and beat the disease.

Dave deBronkart is now actively engaged in the e-patient movement. He blogs as e-Patient Dave, working with health care providers as well as patients, to encourage people to access the power of patient networks.

‘Get educated, get engaged, get empowered,’ he says, advising patients to wise up about statistics and to stay on top of health news. To clinicians, he repeats his mantra: ‘Let Patients Help, Let Patients Help.’

‘Many doctors recognize that the most underused resource in health care is the patients themselves,’ deBronkart says, arguing for patients to have full access to their medical records and detailed information on their disease so they can collaborate with their doctors and participate in decision-making.

‘A whole bunch of improvements that have happened over the past 30 years with IT in other industries are going to evolve in healthcare and that will result in transformation as to how the whole process will work," he says.                                                          

Watch Dave deBronkart's  Ted Talk on how patients are using the Internet to participate actively in their care.


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