Connecting with Physicians Online, a Study by Google

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In November 2009 Hall & Partner published a study sponsored by Google titled "Connecting with Physicians Online." (Here's the webinar on YouTube and here's the PDF of the presentation.)

The study's aim was to better understand how physicians use the internet in their clinical practices. As you'd expect from a study sponsored by Google, it was particularly focused on how physicians use search.

The study surveyed 411 physicians from a range of specialties (PCPs, endocrinologist, cardiologists, psychiatrist) and with a range of experience (2 - 30 years in practice) on their use of the internet in clinical practice. Additionally, various clinical scenarios were presented designed to mimic actual situations the physicians might encounter.

Here are some of the findings. All these percentages seem low to me.
  • 86% of physicians have used the internet to gather health, medical, or prescription drug information.
  • Only 21% of physicians who use the internet in their clinical setting access the internet for medical information in the patient exam room.
  • 58% of physicians access the internet more than once daily.
  • Only 81% of physicians use search engines. Of these, 92% use Google (naturally), but only 13% use Google Scholar. (I'm not certain where Pubmed fits into this — I presume it falls under "search engine.")
  • Physicians most commonly searched online for general condition information and specific drug information.
  • As a result of online research, physicians made a change in medication or initiated a treatment about 30% of the the time.
  • 78% (only 78%?!) believe the Internet has made practicing medicine easier.
  • 8% of all physicians clicked sponsored links, but 21% of psychiatrists clicked on sponsored links. (Analyze that.)
  • 92% of physicians clicked on the first search result.
To delve further into the summary PDF, click here.











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About the Author


MD, FACP, FASN

Dr. Schwimmer's blog explores the intersection of medicine, new technologies, and the Internet.

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