Healthcare Marketing, Pew Research Highlights The Importance Of Content

Healthcare marketing and the internet, what the latest stats mean for your healthcare marketing strategy

By Geoffrey Cooling

Healthcare Marketing

Our friends at Pew Research Center have been busy again, their recent study relates health care and the web. According to the study, of the 81% of U.S. adults who use the Internet,

  • 72% of internet users say they have looked online for health information in the past year.Tweet this
  • More importantly to us and others in health-care, 8 in 10 online health inquiries start on a search engine.Tweet this

The report was released on Tuesday and can be found here “Health Online 2013 “. The research looked at a number of aspects related to behaviour online as it relates to health care. Some of the topics explored include how people are using the Internet to research health, the increasing trend of “online diagnosers,” the role of social interaction in healthcare, and the adoption of reviews among general consumers.


One of the more interesting figures from the study stems from the trend of “self-diagnosers.” Of those who have looked online for health information,

  • 59% say they have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have.
  • Of those questioned 46% of online diagnosers said that the condition needed the attention of a doctor
  • and 53% of online diagnosers say they spoke with a medical professional regarding what they found online.

What exactly does this mean for hearing healthcare marketing? I think the facts about online diagnosers combined with the statistic that 8 in 10 online health inquiries start on a search engine, create a unique opportunity for us. That opportunity will be driven by well written content. More patients are looking to the Internet before they look to a healthcare professional. All healthcare professionals should be seizing this opportunity to create well written and helpful content that can help prospective patients answer the questions they have.

Well- optimized content can not only help a potential patient make better decisions about his or her health, but also drive prospective patients to a relevant practice in the event that they do want to further investigate their findings. The study also had some interesting finding in relation to so called “Social Medicine”. While past Pew studies explored usage of specific social networks when it came to health care, this study focused on how patients were using social interaction as a means of researching their health.

Of the 72% of Internet users who said they looked online for health information within the past year. Only 1% actually said they started at a social network site. However while the search may not start with social networks, more and more people are looking to interact with people dealing with similar health matters online.

    • One in four Internet users have read or watched someone else’s experience with health or medical issues in the last year.Tweet this
    • 16% of Internet users have gone online to find others who may have shared the same health concerns in the last year.Tweet this

8% of Internet users say they have, in the past 12 months, posted a health-related question online or shared their own personal health experience online in some way.Tweet this

Of those users

  • 40% say they posted comments or stories about personal health experiences
  • 19% say they posted specific health questions
  • 38% say they posted both
  • 78% of those who posted a comment, story, or question about their health say that they did so to reach a general audience of friends or other Internet users.
  • 11% say they posted somewhere specifically to get feedback from a health professional.
  • 4% replied that they posted for both a general and a professional audience and 5% said neither of those choices fit.

This appears to be a growing trend of social need and the desire to be a part of a community of supporters. Again it appears to be a part of the overall impetus to connect that drives internet and social media adoption. This need opens up opportunity for all healthcare professionals. These opportunities could be myriad and not just related to what we have consider healthcare marketing up to now. As more patients look for a sense of community, healthcare professionals could be at the forefront of community creation. By that I mean that they could provide a means for connecting patients both in their practice and on their websites.

In a post named Build Your Offline Community I wrote some time ago, I explored options for building a community around your Practice. Those options and strategies appear to be more valid as time goes on. But what about strategies to build an online community around your Practice? Would deploying an online forum attached to your website bring value? The forum could be open to your Patients only, a place where they come for information, support and to talk to individuals with similar issues. Considering the study findings, do you think that this would add value to your services and attract Patients?

There were some other relatively interesting statistics for healthcare marketing

  • 11% of Internet users say they have signed up to receive email updates or alerts about health or medical issues in the past year.Tweet this
  • 52% of smartphone owners have looked up health information on their phone.Tweet this

So all in all some pretty interesting results, it is becoming ever clearer that well written content is key to your healthcare marketing. But it has also raised some interesting results in relation to sense of community. We all feel the need to belong, it is a base human urge, perhaps it is something that we should be factoring into our healthcare marketing strategy.



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About Geoffrey Cooling

Geoffrey Cooling is an Irish hearing care blogger and the author of The Little Book of Hearing Aids and Audiology Marketing in a Digital World. He has been involved in the Hearing Healthcare Profession since 2007 when he qualified as a hearing aid audiologist. He has worked in private practice and for a major hearing aid manufacturer. He has become recognised as an authority within the field of hearing care and hearing aids.


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