Quick. You’ve been diagnosed with an illness. Where do you turn to find out more? A healthcare professional or the internet?
According to the MARS 2010 Online Behavior Study conducted recently by Kantar Media, it’s a virtual tie, with 81% turning to a healthcare professional and 77% searching the net.
This is the latest in a string of studies that show that consumers are hungry for information and are actively doing their own healthcare research.
As a hospital marketing professional, you know that the internet can be a scary world, full of misinformation and just plain bad advice. So what can you do to help your patients when they decide to turn to the internet?
First of all, make sure that your own hospital website is full of useful information and that the information is easy to find. You can subscribe to one of the web services that provides in-depth information on a myriad of medical conditions. Or you can make sure that your site has plenty of links to those medical resources that contain quality information and that you trust.
Next, especially for those specialty services you provide – such as cancer care, sleep disorders, cardiology, diabetes, joint replacement, etc. – consider creating a list of trusted online resources for each specialty. Ask your healthcare professionals to give the information to patients following a diagnosis. You know your patients are going to head home and jump on the computer. This would start them in the right direction and make sure they’re getting accurate information.
Patient use of the internet to research medical conditions is just going to keep growing. Be proactive. Be part of the conversation.