Monday, November 21, 2005

For 31.6 Million U.S. Adults, the Internet is the First Stop for Health Care Decisions

For 31.6 Million U.S. Adults, the Internet is the First Stop for Health Care Decisions  
Manhattan Research Reveals Five Consumer Health Market Trends in 2005

NEW YORK, NY -- November 21, 2005 -- The population of consumers using the Internet as their primary  learning channel for health information continues an upward trajectory in 2005 with 31.6 million consumers reporting the Internet as their first stop when seeking more information. This is one of five key market trends identified by Manhattan Research, with the release of its latest iteration of Cybercitizen Health(r), version 5.0 -- an advisory service in its tenth year of focusing on consumers' adoption and usage of the Internet and other related technologies for healthcare.  Learn about these and other consumer health trends in a free upcoming webinar (details below).

"The health industry is adjusting to a world where the promises of 10 years ago, at the launch of the Internet generation, are finally becoming a market reality," states Mark Bard, president of Manhattan Research.  "The intersection of broadband, consumer-driven health, community and content, has created the perfect storm for the next generation of e-health.  Consumers are in control and are increasingly seeking timely and efficient access to the information and tools that will help them manage their personal health and that of their friends and family."

Five Key Trends Identified in Cybercitizen Health v5.0 

1) Internet Ranks First for a Growing Number -- As the shift away from traditional health promotion and patient education to more targeted efforts promoting informed patient care continues to evolve, the Internet has become the "go to" source for almost 32 million U.S. adults -- representing nearly a 50% increase from just one year ago. Overall, a total market of 99 million U.S. adults is using the Internet for health information (any use in the past 12 months).

2) The "On Demand" Health Consumer Emerges and Takes Control of Content -- There is a new market segment that innovative marketers must embrace in the years ahead -- the "on demand" health consumer.  These consumers are significantly more likely than the average health consumer to engage in a wide range of interactive activities and embrace the ability to access and control health content on their terms.  They are twice as likely to watch video clips online, four times as likely to subscribe to podcasts, and almost three times more likely to read blogs online.  This segment is also twice as likely to carry a mobile digital device (PDA), listen to satellite radio, and to use a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Although a relatively healthy population overall, the segment is actually more likely than the "average" consumer to suffer from ADHD, Acid Reflux, Allergies, Anxiety/Social Phobia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Cancer, Migraine or Obesity. 

3) Search Engines Remain Critical Gateway to Content --  Although consumers clearly state there is a need for an improved search engine experience, the utilization of search engines for health and pharmaceutical information experienced strong growth -- with 95% of consumers looking for health information reporting any use of an engine in 2005.  While consumers continue to build strong links directly to their favorite health information sites and portals (such as WebMD and Mayo Clinic), they view search engines (such as Google and Yahoo! Search) as essential guides to the latest and most diverse health content and resources available online today.  Perhaps more telling is that they have very high expectations regarding the future capabilities of search specific to health-related information.

4) "Health Influencers" Represent the Vital Few -- The latest research reveals a relatively small group of health consumers (approximately 20 million) with a significant impact on the rest of the population – much more than their absolute numbers would indicate.  Specifically, these consumers have considerable impact on those in their "zone of influence"-- ranging from spouses, children, and elderly parents to extended family and friends.  In fact, other health consumers are very likely to seek out advice from this group of highly influential health consumers -- who are much more likely than the average consumer to be using interactive media such as the Internet in their ongoing quest for knowledge and health education.

5) Consumers Rapidly Migrate to "E" in DTC Advertising Response -- The population of consumers sourcing the online channel to learn about pharmaceutical products in response to DTC advertising has grown significantly over the past year. In fact, 2005 represents a critical point in the shifting landscape, with more than 22 million consumers actively going online in response to DTC ads they have seen through television and other traditional media channels. Looking at the crossover between key market trends, the "on demand" health consumer segment (mentioned in the second trend above) is not only significantly more likely to seek additional information online in response to advertisements but also to request a prescription drug from their personal physician.

The Cybercitizen Health(r) v5.0 strategic research and advisory service, based on a telephone study conducted with a random sample of 4,031 U.S. adults, explores topics such as the Internet, email communication with physicians, DTC advertising trends, health ecommerce, health plans and providers, use of pharmaceutical information online and health information seeking methods. In addition to providing insight regarding overall market trends, the data can be analyzed by over 30 therapeutic segments. 

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