77% of Internet Health Information Seekers Start with the Search Engine
As you read this article, one of the most important aspects to remember is that it’s not JUST about health diagnosis, but also about solutions to senior health care issues. If YOUR senior care business cannot be found on the first page of Google, you simply don’t exist.
There is a tremendous amount of debate over whether the health information that is available on the internet is actually accurate. This doesn’t stop a large number of internet users in the U.S. from turning to the Web when they have questions regarding their health. Rather than relying on the information on websites actually dedicated to health information, these health information seekers start first at the trusty search engine.
A recent study by the Internet & American Life Project by Pew Research Center reports that 72% of internet users in the United States report having searched the internet specifically for health-related information within the last year. Of this group, an incredible 77% admit that they started their research not at a medical site, but on their favorite search engine such as Bing or Google. Compare this to the only 13% who went directly to a specifically health-related site, or the 2% who turned to the ever-popular Wikipedia or other general information site, and you will notice a major split.
When these numbers are divided by age range, the differential is even starker. The same Pew studied indicates that over 80% of internet users that are between the ages of 18 and 29 years will start a health-related internet search on a search engine, putting them nearly 10 percentage points higher than the 50-and-older age bracket.
If you consider the incredible rise in cell phone and smart phone use to explore the internet, you will likely not be surprised to find that over 30% of cell phone users that use their devices to access the internet report having used their phones to seek out health-related information online. When only talking about smart phone users, this statistic rises to 52%, highlighting the change from computer-usage to handheld device-usage among younger generations.
These numbers are proving a bit disturbing to many physicians. The debate over the validity of the health information that is available on the internet has been burning since the advent of health sites on the internet, with physicians encouraging their patients not to trust their favorite search engine to generate valid answers to health questions. Using Google or Bing, they say, can cause patients to find much more false information than true information and can lead to woefully incorrect self-diagnoses.
These diagnoses, referred to in the internet world as “cyberchondria”, were the focus on a study Microsoft performed in 2008. This study explored the cultural phenomenon of people going on the internet to research their symptoms and coming away with the notion that they are devastatingly ill. This doesn’t change, however, that doing internet research has helped many people pinpoint issues that they have that they haven’t been able to explain. Scott Adams, creator of the cartoon character Dilbert, reports using an internet search to diagnose a particular speech defect referred to as Spasmodic Dysphonia.
Valerie’s motto and favorite saying is: “Impact is not created by big budgets, impact is created by innovative marketing ideas!”
Valerie is a Registered Nurse and the author of three books, Aging Answers (2003), The Senior Solution (2007) and Priceless Caregiving (2009). Her adventure in internet marketing began as a self-promotion experiment and ended up becoming a full time marketing consulting business for the elder care market.
Valerie has appeared on national television (Today Show), has hosted her own local radio show, and has been interviewed for dozens of publications and radio shows across the country regarding her business and the business of elder care.
She fast became the foremost authority in driving sales via the internet, seminars, and e-mail for senior service providers and elder care entrepreneurs.While Valerie’s best known for her expertise in marketing, her students share that her biggest impact comes from her ability to make things happen quickly, even on a small budget.
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