E-health is seen as an important technological tool in achieving self-management; however, there is little evidence of how effective e-health is for self-management. Example tools remain experimental and there is limited knowledge yet about the design, use, and effects of this class of tools. By way of introducing a new view on the development of e-health tools dedicated to self-management we aim to contribute to the discussion for further research in this area. Our assumption is that patient empowerment is an important mechanism of e-health self-management and we suggest incorporating it within the development of self-management tools. Important components of empowerment selected from literature are: communication, education and health literacy, information, self-care, decision aids and contact with fellow patients. All components require skills of both patients and the physicians. In this discussion paper we propose how the required skills can be used to specify effective self-management tools. © 2011 The Author(s).