Thomas William Ferguson

Thomas William Ferguson

Dr. Thomas William "Tom" Ferguson (July 8 1943 - April 14 2006) was an American medical doctor and author.

Medical consumer career

A physician, author, and researcher, Dr. Ferguson studied and wrote about the empowered medical consumer since 1975, and about online health resources for consumers since 1987. In 1993 he organized the world's first conference devoted to computer systems designed for medical consumers.

After attending Reed College, earning a Master's Degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University, and a medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine, he launched a prolific career in consumer focused medical writing as founder of Medical Self Care magazine.

From 1980 to 1996 he authored or co-authored over a dozen books and was section editor for health, medicine and self-care for the Whole Earth Catalogue.

Dr. Ferguson virtually led the movement to advocate informed self-care as the starting point for good health, and to promote a new kind of relationship between knowledgeable medical consumers and medical professionals. His goal was to encourage medical professionals to treat clients as equal partners in achieving better outcomes and change the entrenched practices of the traditional top-down hierarchy of the doctor-patient relationship. With the advent of broad access to the internet, Dr. Ferguson's long history of advocacy of information-empowered medical consumers, also known as an E-Patient, a term he invented, positioned him to be a leading proponent of online health information resources.

Personal informed medical care

Following his own philosophy, he survived fifteen years with multiple myeloma, far exceeding typical expectations. He relentlessly pursued strategies for both self-care and the newest research and experimental practices for controlling this aggressive cancer. During that time, between relapses and debilitating treatments, he led a migration of medical consumer information to the internet, lectured widely on the emerging field of "health informatics", and earned a global reputation as a true innovator and pioneer in the field. In 1999 he was one of four to be recognized as an "Online Health Hero", an award given by the Intel Corporation's Health Initiative Project. For years he published the [ Ferguson Report] dedicated to developments in eHealth.

Later career

In recent years, he served as a Senior Research Fellow for Online Health at the Pew Internet and American Life Project in Washington D.C. and a consultant to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

He was an Adjunct Associate Professor of Health Informatics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, a Senior Associate at Boston's Center for Clinical Computing, a medical computing think-tank associated with Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.

He had most recently joined the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Center as an adjunct faculty where he initiated a patient centered quality improvement program at theMyeloma Institute for Research and Therapy.


Thomas Ferguson was born in Ross, California on but spent most of his childhood in Coos Bay, Oregon. He moved to Austin, Texas in 1983 when he married Meredith Mitchell Dreiss of Austin. His wife and a stepdaughter, Adrienne Dreiss from New York City survived him, in addition to his mother and siblings.


Dr. Ferguson died in 2006, aged 62, at the UAMS medical center hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas where he was undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma.

elected Works


* "The Political Economy of Knowledge and the Changing Politics of the Philosophy of Science". "TELOS" 15 (Spring 1973). New York: [ Telos Press]

External links

* [ e-patients: how they can help us heal health care] , a white paper by Tom Ferguson et al. (977MB)
* [http://e-patients'net E-patients] blog

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