Six In 10 Have Used Web For Health Info - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Patient Tools

Six In 10 Have Used Web For Health Info

The Government's first national survey on the use of health information technology (HIT) shows widespread use of the Web for finding medical info.

More than six in 10 U.S. adults have used the Internet to search for health or medical information, a government survey shows.

In addition, nearly half of adults have accessed a Web site that provides information on a specific medical condition or problem, the study by the National Center for Health Statistics found. People between the ages of 18 and 49 were more likely than older adults to use health information technology, defined as either software or hardware used to gather, share, or store healthcare information.

The study, released last week, is the first nationally representative household survey to collect data on the use of health information technology (HIT). The survey of 7,192 adults aged 18 to 64 was conducted from January through June 2009.

Findings showed that 61% of the respondents had used the Internet to look up health or medical information, with slightly more than half tapping the Web for health info in the 12 months before the survey. More than 3% of the adults used an online chat group to learn about health topics in the past 12 months.

Women were more likely than men to look up health information on the Web and were also more likely to use online chat rooms.

Nearly 5% of adults surveyed had communicated with a healthcare provider by e-mail in the past 12 months. Fully, 6% had requested a prescription refill on the Internet, and nearly 3% had made an appointment with a health care provider.

Women were more likely than men to use the Web for refilling prescriptions and communicating with a healthcare provider over e-mail.

The increasing use of the Internet by patients to search for medical information has not gone unnoticed by many healthcare providers. Hospitals and medical clinics say platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, and blogs, have given them the ability to reach the public on a much greater scale that is possible one to one and is far less expensive than TV and radio.

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