- 80 percent of Internet users, or about 93 million Americans, have searched for a health-related topic online, according to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project .
- That’s up from 62 percent of Internet users who said they went online to research health topics in 2001, the Washington research firm found.
- Most frequently people went online to look up information about a specific disease or medical problem (63 percent) or a particular medical treatment or procedure (47 percent) .
- The new study indicates that looking for health or medical information is one of the most popular activities online.
- The research firm also found that more than half of people who had conducted a health-related search recently did it for someone else, either a spouse, child, friend or loved one.
- “A lot of people aren’t finding what they need,” says Fox. “That points to the need for better health literacy and search engines paying attention to health as (an in-depth) topic.”
The Pew study found women are more likely to seek health information online than men (85 percent compared to 75 percent) and younger consumers are more likely to research health topics online than senior citizens .
Only 22 percent of Americans over 65 have Internet access, according to Pew. Of those, 70 percent have searched for health topics. The challenge remains to close the gap between people with Internet health access and those without, but improvements are also needed in helping people find relevant information once they are online.Search engines are the first stop for 8 out of 10 people seeking health information, but often people are not able to locate the most current or accurate Web sites.
One topic that keeps coming up in my research (qualitative) is the frustration of online health seekers to find both relevant information and information that’s easy for them to understand. Pharma sites too often use “label language” and a number of questionable websites often communicate bad or inaccurate information.
Why hasn’t pharma made the connection?
1ne: It costs time and money to develop a content strategy.
2wo: Pharma measures total visitors rather than engagement for their websites.
3hree: No dedicated brand emarketing people.
4our: Agencies have not invested in copywriters who can write in a style that talks to people rather than trying to “sell them”.
5ive: Most pharma websites still don’t provide links to good, credible health information.
6ix: Pharma websites are updated in months rather than days.
A HUGE missed opportunity
We are moving beyond quantitative measurements to a qualitative measurement era in Internet marketing. You should be measuring engagement levels on your sire like time on site and the number of pages viewed rather than the total number of visitors. with DTC marketing.