Internet affecting consumer health decisions

Online resources are shaping the way consumers choose health products and services, a new study shows.

Three-quarters of Americans (73 percent) use online health information and tools, and more than half of those online consumers say that their research has influenced their choice of health care providers, treatments and services, according to a new study from health care market research and advisory firm Manhattan Research.

Primary care physician and prescription drug decisions in particular are influenced by online resources, with one in five online consumers saying online resources affected these choices, respectively.

Some patients are particularly more influenced by online decisions, the research finds, including patients with angina, ADD/ADHD, Crohn’s Disease, fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The same goes for newly diagnosed patients. Most (79 percent) of online patients diagnosed with a chronic condition within the past three months say the Internet has influenced their health choices, compared to only 53 percent of patients diagnosed with a chronic condition more than one year ago.

“Consumers are relying on new digital ecosystems to shape a multitude of daily decisions, from retail products to travel, and we're starting to see this trickle down to health care,” says Monique Levy, vice president of research at Manhattan Research. “This trend will become stronger as more consumers rely on mobile devices to make just in time decisions.”


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