The internet is changing the world around us at a rapid pace. This includes its impact on healthcare and health information. If information is power the internet is an atom bomb. There is an ongoing explosion of the amount of information that is online and the number of people who are reading it and using it.
Once again, the Policy ThinkShop recommends the fine work that people at the Pew foundation are doing to enlighten American’s about the social impact of technological progress.
85% of U.S. adults use the internet (May 2013 survey). For more, see: Who’s Online.
91% of U.S. adults own a cell phone; 56% of U.S. adults own a smartphone (May 2013 survey). For more, see: Pew Internet: Mobile.
Online health information:
72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year.
This is based on a September 2012 survey, the first time we asked people to think only about their online health activities in the past 12 months. For historical perspective, see: Health Topics and Who Doesn’t Gather Health Information Online?
77% of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Another 13% say they began at a site that specializes in health information, like WebMD. Just 2% say they started their research at a more general site like Wikipedia and an additional 1% say they started at a social network site like Facebook.
The most commonly-researched topics are specific diseases or conditions; treatments or procedures; and doctors or other health professionals.
Half of online health information research is on behalf of someone else — information access by proxy.
26% of online health seekers say they have been asked to pay for access to something they wanted to see online (just 2% say they did so).
Clinicians remain a central resource:
When asked to think about the last time they had a serious health issue and to whom they turned for help, either online or offline:
70% of U.S. adults got information, care, or support from a doctor or other health care professional.
60% of adults got information or support from friends and family.
24% of adults got information or support from others who have the same health condition.
The vast majority of this care and conversation took place offline, but a small group of people did communicate with each of these sources online. For more, see: Health Online 2013.
31% of cell phone owners, and 52% of smartphone owners, have used their phone to look up health or medical information.
This finding is of particular interest to those interested in trends related to young people, Latinos, and African Americans, since these groups are significantly more likely than other groups to have mobile internet access.
19% of smartphone owners have downloaded an app specifically to track or manage health.