A Harris Poll finds that three quarters or 74 per cent of all adults have gone online at some time to look for health information, and that 60 per cent have done so in the previous month. These numbers have not changed significantly since last year, but they are much higher now than they were a few years earlier.
Points to Ponder
— The proportion of people who are online who report that they “often” look for information about health topics on the Internet has increased to 39 per cent, up from 32 per cent last year, and 22 per cent in 2009 .
— Majority of the people who go online to look for health care information use search engines (69 per cent) and medical websites (62 per cent) to look for health information online.
— The proportion of people saying their searches were very or somewhat successful has increased to 90 per cent this year, up from 86 per cent last year and 83 per cent in 2009.
— The proportion of people saying they believe the information they obtained was reliable has risen to 90 per cent this year from 87 per cent and 85 per cent in the two previous years.
— 57 per cent of people who go online to look for healthcare information report that they discussed information obtained online with their doctors, up from 44 per cent and 53 per cent in the last two years.
— People who report that they searched online for medical information based on discussions with their doctors has increased to 57 per cent from 49 per cent in 2009 and 51 per cent in 2010.
“As the influence of the Internet as a valued source of health care and medical information continues to grow, all stakeholder groups including the health care industry, medical societies, NGOs and government agencies need to work hard to ensure that they are providing the public with relevant, user-friendly and reliable information,” says Harris.
The telephone survey consisted of 1,019 adults, and was conducted by Harris Interactive. You can access the study here.
1] It would be good to have reliable medical data online; the operative word here is ‘reliable’. For every WebMD or Mayo Clinic site offering correct and relevant advice, there are about a zillion websites that are not.
2] It would probably be a good idea to have access to a online consolidated medical report. This could come in handy in case of say a traffic accident. Or probably not. We are yet to find a way to secure such information online and restrict access. Among the reasons why Google could not make much progress with Google Health and has decided to discontinue it beyond next year.