Health: Online Health by the Numbers

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

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Digital Technology has changed the landscape in health care, and it has changed the role of the consumer, patient, caregiver and health care professional. The internet has empowered patients and consumers to take charge of their health and to be proactive.  Consumers and patients are active participants in their health care.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project explores the impact of the internet and “provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.” Here are some interesting statistics on internet use, health seekers online activity and Smartphone use by Susannah Fox, Pew Internet: Health July 1, 2013.

 Health Online

  • 85% of U.S. adults use the internet.
  • 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year.
  • 77% of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. (Eight in ten online health inquiries start at a search engine.)
  • The most commonly-researched topics are specific diseases or conditions; treatments or procedures; and doctors or other health professionals.
  • 70% of U.S. adults obtained information, care, or support from a doctor or other health care professional.
  • 60% of adults obtained information or support from friends and family.
  • 24% of adults obtained information or support from others who have the same health condition.
  • 91% of U.S. adults own a cell phone; 56% of U.S. adults own a Smartphone.
  • 31% of cell phone owners, and 52% of Smartphone owners, have used their phone to look up health or medical information.
  • 35% of U.S. adults say that at one time or another they have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have.
  • 7 in 10 U.S. adults have tracked a health indicator for themselves or for someone else. Of those, 34% share their health tracking records or notes with another person or group.
  • 60% of U.S. adults say they track their weight, diet, or exercise routine.
  • 39% of U.S. adults provided care for a loved one in the past 12 months, which could include helping with personal needs, household chores, finances, or simply visiting to check in.

Your turn

How do you use digital technology for your health? Do you search online for medical conditions or disease specific information?  Who do you trust? Do you track your weight, diet or fitness routine and share it with another person or group?

We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. As always, thank you for your very valuable time.

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

Fox, Susannah Pew Internet: Health. Pew Internet & American Life Project, July 1, 2013,, accessed September 3, 2013.


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