I first heard the term "unpatient" used by David Maizenberg who, with Leonard Kish, appears to have coined it in late 2014. They developed a manifesto about access to one's own health data that is available on the web: Health Data Ownership Manifesto. The thinking underlying the idea of the unpatient is that the new generation of healthcare consumers are motivated to collect their personal health data and pursue wellness, thus avoiding diseases when possible (see: The Democratization of Healthcare; Eric Topol's Perspective; "Unpatient" Health Data Ownership Manifesto; An Idea Whose Time Has Come). I have blogged extensively about lifestyle diseases which are often preventable such as obesity, adult-onset diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (see: The Secret to a Healthy Life; Few Americans Would Qualify; Major Transformational and Disruptive Changes That Will Affect Healthcare; Changes in the Cause of U.S. Deaths; Insights into Preventable Diseases).
I believe that patients should exercise more control over their personal health data (see: Who Owns EHR Data? What constitutes proper data stewardship?) but I also want to briefly discuss the term unpatient from a slightly different perspective. For the more than ten years I have been publishing Lab Soft News, I have been using the awkward term healthcare consumers when I referring to individuals who were not sick or under the direct care of a healthcare professional. I think that the term unpatient is preferable to healthcare consumers because it refers to people generally free of disease but also with a keen interest in preserving their wellness through individual lifestyle choices.
Whether or not the term unpatient gains favor, the movement toward wellness is irreversible. Major adjustments will be required in order to engage the entire healthcare industry in this pursuit. Our healthcare professionals are generally trained and focused on the diagnosis and treatment of disease and they are compensated for it by the current system. We need to take steps to reward them for the pursuit and preservation of wellness. In other words, we need more attention paid to the needs of unpatients.