News Column

Makovsky Health/Kelton Survey: 'Consumers Ready to Take Charge of Their Health'

May 4, 2014

Consumers are overwhelmingly ready to share personal health information to help researchers better understand a disease, particularly if they can do so anonymously.

According to a release, new findings from the fourth Makovsky Health/Kelton Survey reveal trends in how consumers access health information and manage personal health care - and it is driven increasingly by smartphones and new health technologies.

"The on-the-go health information movement is integral to the care patients seek in addressing their medical interests," said Gil Bashe, executive vice president, practice director, Makovsky Health. "When health concerns strike, people want information almost immediately. Our industry continues to place importance on the mobile user experience, as consumers increasingly use smartphones and are more receptive to information from pharmaceutical-sponsored sources than in years past."

In addition, the Makovsky Health/Kelton Survey noted:

More than one in three Americans say they would trust a disease website sponsored by a pharmaceutical company (35 percent). At the same time, fewer Americans say they would never visit a pharmaceutical-sponsored website for more information about a disease or medication, with resistance dropping from 23 percent to 16 percent in the past year alone.

To help researchers understand a disease or improve care or treatment options, 90 percent of Americans are ready to share personal health information:

_26 percent would share regardless of whether data were anonymous.

_23 percent would share if they could control which data were anonymous.

_40 percent would share if promised that all data would remain anonymous.

Showing a potential relationship between these two groups; consumers who would be willing to visit pharmaceutical-sponsored websites are more willing to share health information (91 percent), compared to those who say they would never visit a pharmaceutical- sponsored website (83 percent).

When it comes to managing personal health, a majority of consumers would use a wearable health device (81 percent). However, industry data suggest that fewer than 10 percent are currently using one (Consumer Electronics Association). Data suggest tremendous market potential as "wearables" become more mainstream.

Mobile platforms, such as smartphones and tablets, continue to increase in popularity, nearly doubling in use compared to two years ago. Personal computers remain the main tool for health searches:

_The percentage of Americans using a PC to look for health information decreased from 83 percent in 2013 to 69 percent in 2014.

_At the same time, smartphone use has increased from 6 percent to 19 percent in the past year.

_Tablet use also is trending upward, from 4 percent in 2012 to 11 percent in 2013 and 2014.

The usage statistics show opportunities for pharmaceutical marketers to make their information more accessible to consumers and physicians on-the-go, particularly in light of data that point to the small number of pharmaceutical websites that are optimized for mobile (Manhattan Research).

"In this data, we see strong evidence that consumers are ready to take charge of their health," says Tom Bernthal, founder and CEO, Kelton Global. "Our work in consumer insights finds this proactive health-consciousness across the board. People are no longer satisfied with a passive role in their own healthcare."

Year-over-year findings in the Makovsky Health/Kelton Survey also show consistency among the largest and most noted sources in accessing health information. For the fourth straight year, WebMD remained the most popular online resource (62 percent in 2014, 53 percent in 2013), with Wikipedia (25 percent vs. 22 percent) and advocacy group websites like the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society (16 percent vs. 16 percent) rounding out the top three sources.

The strongest motivators to visit a pharmaceutical website are a healthcare provider recommendation (55 percent), a peer recommendation - climbing from the third position to second at 35 percent - and a news article mentioning a disease or medication (27 percent).

Fielded to 1,001 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and older by Kelton, the Makovsky Health survey investigated consumers' behavior and preferences for engaging with online healthcare information. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Kelton is a research, strategy and design consultancy.

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Source: Professional Services Close - Up

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