Makovsky and Kelton survey spotlights U.S. consumer online health habits
By Mia Burns (email@example.com)
On average, U.S. consumers spend close to 52 hours annually searching for health information online and visit their physician three times, according to a national survey from Makovsky Health and Kelton. In addition, physicians remain a key influencer sparking online health research. Fifty one percent of Americans are most likely to visit a pharma-sponsored website after receiving a diagnosis from their physician. The Makovsky-Kelton survey was fielded to 1,067 nationally representative Americans 18 years of age and older with the intent to investigate consumers’ overall engagement with online healthcare information, including device and source preferences, frequency and influencers.
According to the survey, WebMD is the most frequented online source for healthcare information with 53 percent of respondents reporting their use of the site. Twenty-four percent of consumers reported using at least one or a combination of social media channels, including YouTube video channels, Facebook sites, blogs, and Twitter feeds with links to other resources to seek healthcare information. Eighty-three percent of U.S. consumers are still using a personal computer for health searches and not a tablet or smartphone.
“This is the third year we’ve been doing this survey,” says Lindsey Thompson, group VP, Makovsky Health. “As an industry, we’re in a really exciting time, with consumers having increased access to information and technology bringing patients and physicians more closely connected beyond the point-of-care. The real motivating factor for this survey is to better serve our clients and inform our engagement strategies to what will have the most impact and educational influence.” Thompson also told Med Ad News Daily that pharma-sponsored websites, “included any pharma entity—disease-state, brand, and corporate.”
In the coming months, the Affordable Care Act and healthcare reform are expected to impact patient care; however, consumers are not seeking information about ACA online. The survey data indicates that 33 percent of consumers have spent less than an hour researching ACA information in the past year, with 32 percent of respondents stating they have never researched healthcare reform. “Though it may seem counterintuitive, the current lack of Affordable Care Act research is logical given human behavior – just look at how many people file their taxes a week before the deadline,” said Kelton CEO Tom Bernthal. “These information-seeking patterns could suggest an increased pressure for healthcare companies to get it right during this critical countdown to the launch of the health insurance marketplace. The test of success for these companies will be the ability to simplify complex information for the millions of insurance-naïve, confused and anxious consumers entering the changing system.”
“The survey is a deeper dive into the motivating factors behind health search than others currently out there,” Thompson told Med Ad News Daily. “We wanted to know where and why people are accessing health information, and the data show a number of opportunities for pharma to maximize the reach and resonance of its messaging. One of the biggest opportunities is an increased focus on partnerships—with advocacy groups, media channels/resources, and professional organizations. At Makovsky, we talk about the echo chamber, and the fact that your message is never delivered to one audience in a vacuum. You can create a stronger impact if you bring audiences together, get a dialogue going and share different perspectives.”
Ninety-two percent of patients ranked healthcare providers as the most valuable source of information and 89 percent healthcare providers would recommend a mobile health app to patients. The survey data also includes information for Capitol Hill and federal workers. Specifically, 87 percent of Washington insiders use at least one kind of smartphone. Seventy-four percent access the news function on a mobile device at least once daily. The survey outlines several “Beltway strategy musts” and they include actions for Congress, agencies, and patient and physician advocacy networks. Congress should get ahead of the curve by introducing therapies or treatments before they hit the market. Agencies will need to ensure that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services understand the science prior to making coverage decisions. Patient and physician advocacy networks should navigate multiple organizations from both inside and outside the Beltway.
Posted: September 2013