The E-Patient Is Diagnosed By Pew: Healthcare & The Web

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The Pew Internet & American Life Project just updated its 2008 landmark study of how Americans use the web to search for healthcare services. The study finds, as did the 2008 study, that 8 out 10 users, looking online for health information.

The study found 66% of people searching for healthcare information researched specific conditions and disease states, 56% searched for medical treatments and procedures – though a breakdown was not mentioned – while 44% of searched for doctors and other healthcare. A category that was not included in the 2008 study is medical facilities, and this study found that 36% searched for this category.

It is interesting to note that almost half of Internet users who went online for health information said the research was for someone else, 53 percent of which were caregivers. This appears to be in-line with our experience with our own patient research. The study found that web users who are between the ages of 30 to 49 are the most likely age group to be focused on other people. The study predictably noted, that the “sandwich generation” did on-line exactly what it does off-line: “The Sandwhich Generation” searched for healthcare related topics relative to their aging family members and children.

Not surprisingly, females continue to consume health information more than men. Sixty-five percent of women were more likely to look for health information online, while 53% of men reported the same. The study noted that age is a factor in searching for health services on line. 71 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 turn to the web, while only 29% among those 65 and older, though that number is likely to be higher in the coming years because other studies have shown that the fastest growing segment online remains among those aged 55 and over.

To see the entire study, please click here.