Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Americans Hit the Web for Health Info

A new report from the PEW Internet Project shows that 61% of American adults go online for health information. These "e-patients" are seeking information about health for themselves or for friends or relatives. And 2/3 of them talk to someone else about what they find online, most often a friend or spouse.

Certainly young physicians and health administrators are aware of this sea change , but I am not sure everyone in health care really realizes how different patients (consumers) are now and how they are receiving information. Twenty-four percent of e-patients have consulted rankings or reviews online of doctors or other providers and hospitals. Another 19% have signed up to receive updates about health or medical issues.

When 60% of these patients say the information they found online affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition, health professionals better sit up and take notice. Younger adults (ages 18-49) are the internet age and expect technology to provide information and advice.

Change it is a-comin'


Healthnut said...

I find the internet immensely helpful in acquiring health info, but I also find that 95% of what is out there is not completely accurate. There is usually something missing.

The news that just came out on CRP & heart disease, for instance, is "old" and somewhat taken out of context. Inflammation of the heart does not even take place until myocardial infarction is in process. That's why it's not useful. But if someone walks into the ER and complains of chest pain and gets a hs-CRP or CRP, then that will be useful.

And I'm not even a doctor or a nurse but just want to illustrate how much the internet has taught me about health.

Toni Brayer MD said...

Healthnut: you are so right. As a physician, the internet is invaluable to me, but I do know how to sift the crap from the accurate material. Just because it is online does not mean the information is credible and lots of fancy MD,JD,DO,CNN,RNP,DC titles mean nothing. All advise should be checked out against a trusted source but for information gathering, it can't be beat! Remember the collections of "Encyclopedia Britannica"? Must be long gone by now.

KM said...

For years I have used the Mayo Clinc website and other crediable places on line to learn more about illness of friends or family but always checked wtih my doctor for my own heath.