The new Pew study on the impact of the Internet on American life came out last week, and as usual, someone, @mrinaldesai to be exact, Tweeted it and I found it :-) Yes, this is what Twitter is for: DISCOVERY.
In 2000, 46 percent of Americans had access to the Internet. Less than a decade later, 74 percent of Americans are online, and 61 percent of them are searching for health information. Pew refers to them as e-patients.
What does this mean? Well, besides the obvious, it means that access to care and information from reliable sources isn’t as available as it should be compared to the demand.
And while most Americans still prefer to ask a health professional for information, they will also consult a friend or family member, or go online. And when they go online, they’re not necessarily looking for information for themselves; more than half of online health inquiries are on behalf of someone other than the person searching. Once they find something, e-patients talk to someone else about what they found. Looking for health information has become a social experience. But it’s pretty discreet because of this silly system we play in today.
Significantly, people who look online for health information seem to prefer user-generated content. This will be a shock to the Medscapes and the Mayo Clinics of the world. That’s because they are looking for something 1)recent and 2) tailored for someone who has had a similar experience to the person they are looking on behalf of:
* 41 percent of e-patients have read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, Web site or blog.
* 24 percent of e-patients have consulted rankings or reviews online of doctors or other providers.
* 24 percent of e-patients have consulted rankings or reviews online of hospitals or other medical facilities.
* 19 percent of e-patients have signed up to receive updates about health or medical issues.
* 13 percent of e-patients have listened to a podcast about health or medical issues.