The quest for online health information

  • Nearly 80 percent of the patients who looked up things online before seeing a doctor reported that their searches actually improved their experience. (Source: Anthony M. Cocco, a doctor at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, and the lead author on a recent scientific study about the search habits of people before they show up in an E.R.)
  • In one study, researchers found that only one of the top 54 results for “endometriosis” — the subject of over 4.5 million searches annually — led to a page that contained what was deemed to be accurate information about the condition.
  • The study’s author recommends skipping the kind of scientific papers you might find on Google Scholar or PubMed; they often contain unusual cases and bewildering terminology.

Dr Internet.  It can confuse and bewilder patients as much as helping them. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]We’ve gone from an era of too little information to an era of too much information and we’re pretty much leaving up to online health seekers to determine what is credible and what’s garbage.[/inlinetweet]

Pharma product websites could offer some great content but not too many believe in developing great, easy to read and understand content.  Our research has consistently shown that online health seekers are frustrated with pharma content as find it “very unhelpful”.   I continue to recommend that pharma companies reach out to though leaders to write website content around the health condition, not the medication.

To measure this theory, we looked at several engagement metrics for pharma product websites and found that they were poor.  However, sites that had content specifically developed for online health seekers had better engagement metrics (time on site, pages viewed).

So can pharma website people do a better job?

1ne: Think like an online health seeker.

2wo: Do a competitive analysis of search terms and analyze traffic.

3hree: Stop selling and start talking to online health seekers.  Address their concerns and needs.

4our: Understand the decision making process of online health seekers.

5ive: Stop using complicated medical terms.

Your job is to develop an online experience that users rate “excellent” not your agency or internal eMarketing people.

1 thought on “The quest for online health information

  1. Interesting information, Richard, and certainly worth understanding some of the pitfalls inquiring consumers must avoid. It appears it would be worth someone’s time and energy to produce something similar that actually pinpoints WHERE someone should look to receive valid information…as opposed to focusing on WHERE NOT to look. Thanks.

    Bob Girondi

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