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Internet’s Increasing Role in Healthcare

Posted by | 2:40pm on Monday, November 26, 2012
smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop

79% of online patients diagnosed with a chronic condition within the past three months say the Internet has influenced their health choices 

There is no denying the power of the Internet; however, some skeptics have always doubted that it would change healthcare. New data suggests that this skepticism was unfounded.

In 2012, 73% of U.S. adults (ages 18 and older) use online health information and tools, and new research finds that these resources are shaping consumers’ choices of health products and services. For example, 54% of online consumers say that online information or tools have influenced their choice of healthcare providers, treatments and services. These online resources especially affect the choice of primary care physicians and prescription drugs. This data comes from the 2012 Manhattan Research Cybercitizen Health survey of 8,745 adults, and it highlights the newfound role of the Internet in consumers’ major healthcare decisions.

Which patients use the Internet?
Certain patient audiences are more likely than others to have their health decisions influenced by the Internet. According to Manhattan Research, 79% of online patients diagnosed with a chronic condition within the past three months say the Internet has influenced their health choices, compared to only 53% of patients who had been diagnosed with a chronic condition more than one year ago. This statistic indicates that at the beginning of the patient journey with a chronic illness that patients lean heavily on the web as an informational point of contact.

The type of disorder also makes a difference. The top online condition groups to say that online health information and tools influence their decision to select healthcare providers or services were:

  • Angina (72%)
  • ADD/ADHD (70%)
  • Crohn’s Disease (69%)
  • Fibromyalgia (68%)
  • Insomnia (68%)
  • HIV/AIDS (68%)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (68%)

Multi screen health resources
Mobile and tablet use for healthcare continues to increase. From 2011 to 2012, mobile phone use for health information among adults (18+) grew from 61 to 75 million people, while tablet use increased from 15 to 29 million people. Although tablets are less popular with older consumers, nearly half of online consumers aged 55 and older who own a tablet are using it to find health information.

Connectivity via multiple devices is an important element of the increase in tablet and mobile usage. Among the 15% of online consumers who own at least three devices (smartphones, tablets and desktops/laptops) and use at least one of them for a health activity, 60% are using all three mediums for health information. Given the influence that the Internet now has on patients’ healthcare decision making, the trend of increasing mobile and tablet usage will be an important statistic to monitor moving forward as tablet variety continues to spike.

What do you think?

(Image courtesy of Robert Hawkes on Flickr).

About Jordan Altman

As an account coordinator, Jordan helps the account team and liaises with the project management team. He graduated from the University of Michigan, where he studied communications and global media.

View other posts from Jordan

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