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Thursday, July 12, 2012

A New Epidemic


Epidemic?  Most think of some serious or potentially fatal disease sweeping a country or around the world. This one is different, and perhaps beneficial.

You have “webitis”. No, its not a new medical malady inflicted by endless moussing, clicking, surfing, emailing or participating in social media.

Chances are however that you are among the millions who search the internet for information about what ails you.  Your last doctor visit went off well, but there were some issues you did not understand and your doctor ran off (since he only has about ten minutes to spend with you,(most of the time) without being sure you knew what ‘webitis’ really is.

You are among those who search for health care information on the internet. The phenomenon continues to grow rapidly.

Health Site Audience Grows 60 Percent Over Past Three Years
Over the past three years, U.S. Internet users have shown a steadily increasing trend in visitors to sites in the Health category, which range from general health content sites to branded pharmaceutical sites. The number of total unique visitors accessing these sites on a monthly basis has increased from 86.9 million in June 2008 to 139.1 million in June 2011, representing a 60-percent increase.

Trend in U.S. Unique Visitors (000) to Online Health Sites

Interestingly, the rate of growth in visitors to health properties over the past three years outpaces the growth of the total U.S. Internet audience by more than a factor of 4 (60 percent vs. 13 percent), showing the demand for health information continued to increase at a strong pace.

Even more telling is the growth in audience penetration of Health properties over the past few years. Three years ago, less than half of the total U.S. online population visited health sites. Currently, health sites now reach approximately 2 out of every 3 Americans going online monthly, an increase in penetration of nearly 20-percentage points since June 2008.

 Mobile Health Information Visitation

Mobile health is also experiencing a rise in those seeking health information, which parallels the growth of mobile apps overall. This may also indicate the importance of your web information being programmed for best visibility on tablet pcs or smartphones.  Patients look for information on the fly, perhaps even as they leave your clinic on the way home, or on the way to the pharmacy following a clinic visit.

At the end of the day, these trends we’re seeing from comScore data show the demand for online health information to be far from waning and the prospect for sustained health visitation to be strong. Consumers have never before had as much ability to find health information to inform their health care decisions as they do now, and with the proliferation of connected devices enabling greater access and constant connectivity, it is only likely that the use of online health sources to engage with health information will continue to grow.


comScore, Inc.


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