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More Than Half of Americans Use Internet for Health

February 5, 2010
Posted by Susan Weissman

Numbers keep going up, according to a survey by the National Center for Health Statistics.

• 50% of Americans looked up health information on the Internet in 2009
• 5% used email to communicate with their doctors
• Women were more likely than men to look up health information (58% versus 43%)
• 6% of adults requested a refill of a prescription on the Internet
• 3% made an appointment with a health care provider in the previous 12 months via Internet

A few quick observations: women have been the primarily health care decision makers for a long time (for themselves, their children, their spouses and their parents), I don’t see that changing any time soon. Consumers are becoming more informed and making more choices about health care, treatment plans, etc. Physicians still drive the decisions, but they do it in consultation with their patients, and patients are becoming more assertive. Access to health care information via the Internet will grow in conjunction with consumer driven health care decisions. Physicians are using the internet as well for health care information, but are reluctant to use Internet or email to communicate with patients because of concerns about privacy as well as confusion about how to charge for their time. Over time, I believe this will become part of the service we expect from our physicians and we will be happy to pay for it.

(Note: Research was completed January – June, 2009, 7,192 adults 18-64 were surveyed.)

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