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What’s Happening with Consumers and Digital Health Information?

“The years 2010-2013 saw some of the most dramatic shifts in health and technology of the past decade,” reported Meredith Ressi, President of Manhattan Research at the recent 2013 EHS Publisher Summit in NYC. With the practice of healthcare undergoing rapid change in the coming years, technology and content will need to change too in order to continue serving both physicians and consumers.

Wendy Josefsberg, Sr. VP, comScore agreed. Her data show that there has been an explosion in mobile and table growth. As of the end of 2012, 120 million U.S. consumers use Smartphones. Tablet growth in just 2 years reached 50 million, “which is ridiculous because it took Smartphones 10 years to reach that same level,” she remarked. She shared a Morgan Stanley prediction that Smartphone adoption will eclipse PCs this year or next and said comScore agrees.

Both Manhattan Research and comScore data reveal that today’s content flows freely across devices. Ms. Josefsberg shared that nearly 1 in 2 minutes is now spent beyond the PC. According to Ms. Ressi, 16% of all consumers have 3 screens. Users want a seamless experience across them. She went on to explain that E-empowered consumers need technology that helps them assume more control over their own health. Use of Smartphones for health in the home “speaks to how easy it is and just how engrained it is in consumer behavior today,” she continued. Fifty-five percent (55%) feel more in control of their health as a result of using Smartphones for health or medical info. Average time on health sites increased at over 3x the rate of the total Internet in the past year, according to comScore.

comScore data also show that in March 2013 33.3 million people went to health info exclusively on mobile or tablet; that’s 25% of all health content consumption. When asked, consumers reported the obvious reasons: convenience, ease-of-use, allows multi-tasking, I am remote and have time. What surprised and pleased Ms. Josefsberg, she shared, is the final response: I am at a doctor’s office reviewing a doctor’s guide so I am prepared for my visit — 22% by phone and 9% by tablet.

Ms. Ressi told the audience that the Internet is used throughout the patient journey. She said “it’s fascinating when you start to get into different types of conditions and the how types of information sought vary by condition and age.” So, in this Health360 world where health info is available all around online and offline, it’s important to keep up while the digital landscape is rapidly evolving. Mobile devices are changing the way consumers access content, so publishers need to create digital content that is searchable, easy to access, and easy to use.

Watch for additional blog postings in the coming weeks as we share more about the valuable data, insights, and opinions that were the focus of the 2013 EHS Publisher Summit. Let us know if you’d like to hear about anything sooner.

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