Don’t look now, but the Internet has become one of today’s most integral health tools.
According to new research by both Kantar Media and Deloitte, an increasing number of people are seeking health information online. Amidst increasing healthcare costs, people are checking out how much a health plan would pay for certain medical treatments and services. They’re also consulting medical reviews, patient ratings, healthcare product effectiveness, and doctor and hospital reviews.
Research firm eMarketer attributes this increasing reliance on the Internet to an aging population and shifting demographics.
“Boomers are turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day, according to AARP,” eMarketer explains in a recent news story. “Unlike the ‘greatest generation’ who used the old patient model, boomers are familiar with technology and inclined to research their health options.”
It’s not just an age thing, though. According to the studies, cost is also a critical issue for users of healthcare-related websites. In fact, 53 percent of users said they would use a site that featured the ability to tell how much their health plan would pay for medical costs. 52 percent, meanwhile, were interested in monitoring doctor reviews and hospital reviews, which previous studies have also shown to be an influential factor in determining patient experience. Another 49 percent would be happy to use healthcare sites with effectiveness ratings, safety information, and user reviews of specific medication or healthcare products.
Some of the sites that offer online reviews and ratings of doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare professionals include: Yelp, Google+ Local, Insider Pages, Judy’s Book, Dr. Oogle, HealthTap, Vitals, and Wellness.com.
Recently, another research study – this time by the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital – revealed that 30 percent of parents choose their pediatricians based on online doctor reviews and ratings.