Patients and caregivers are empowering themselves in record numbers when it comes to managing their own health and the health of their families. According to new data from Manhattan Research the internet has considerably more influence over consumer health decisions than traditional channels like print, TV and radio and even surpassed physicians as the most popular health resource for the first time last year.
- The number of people accessing health information online grew from 90 million in 2004 to 160 million in 2009
- 102.3 million US patients now go online to research prescription drugs and to learn how to manage their conditions
- After consumers view DTC advertisements, they are more likely to seek additional information from the internet than any other source, including doctors, family and friends
- 57% of patients say that their most recent online health inquiry had an impact on their own healthcare or the way they care for someone else
- 60% of patients say they or someone they know has been helped by following medical advice or health information found on the internet
- The number of consumers visiting pharmaceutical websites doubled between 2006 and 2009. These consumers report that this source highly influences their healthcare decisions
- More than 80 million US adults use social media for health-related issues, creating or using content on health blogs, message boards, chat rooms, health social networks and health communities, and patient testimonials.
But before physicians go hanging up their stethoscopes, Word on Health should point out that the study showed that healthcare professionals still have the strongest effect on consumer health behavior.
Studies such as this should help the pharmaceutical industry to plan and align their marketing strategy and ensure that online editorial health content and social media are included in the overall marketing mix.