In June, Google released a report based on research they conducted with Manhattan Research surveying doctors in the US about what they are doing on digital. This research drove a report and an infographic.
The results reinforced strong themes that are central to most digital health marketing as we discuss below.
This study differs from core Manhattan Research studies in that it was conducted completely online (Manhattan Research includes a telephone component to ensure full coverage). This methodology will tend to include doctors who use the Internet frequently. This worry about selection bias is mitigated somewhat by Manhattan Research’s review that shows the population reflects their overall population of practicing US physicians.
Doctors can no longer imagine a world without the internet
All practicing doctors are online and they are using multiple devices to access information:
- 86% desktop
- 85% laptop
- 84% smartphone
- 54% tablet
They are comfortable with technology and are getting the vast majority of their information from the Internet. In fact, when making clinical decisions, doctors spend twice as much time researching online than looking at printed materials.
Search is the center of the digital world
Doctors don’t “surf” the web professionally, they research the answers to questions. Because of the goal-oriented approach search is essentially ubiquitous in the population. These doctors are searching first and they are searching daily. When asked what they do daily online, 84% said search, with an average of six searches conducted. That is a lot of questions being asked online, and a lot of information being exposed, some of it is likely yours (check your web logs).
This was a Google report, so they pointed out that 94% of doctors are using Google for their searches. This is a lot higher than the 65% number that we get from the general population.
Mobile is an extension of the doctor’s digital world
The screens on which doctors are looking for this information vary in size. When asked where they search:
- 98% desktop / laptop
- 63% tablet
- 56% smartphone
Note: percentages are based on the population that owns the device.
Mobile devices are being used when the doctor is not in front of a traditional PC. Some of the places that doctors are accessing the internet are top candidates for mobile usage:
- 77% between patient consults
- 70% after work and on weekends
- 56% on lunch breaks
- 41% during patient consults
The report shows that 1/3 of time spent looking for clinical information on a mobile device was using a special purpose app. The other 2/3 of time was spent using a mobile browser.
2/3 of doctors abandon non-optimized sites
Also, nearly 2/3 of doctors said that they would abandon a website if it was not optimized for a smartphone screen. Check your mobile logs, are you seeing a higher bounce rate? If so, some of those people are doctors running from your information.
Reasons for searching
The triggers for searching are particularly interesting to healthcare marketers. Patient-provided information and questions are the largest triggers for doctor searches followed by independent research and promotional efforts.
This report has more information about YouTube viewing habits and typical actions taken once information is found. Download your copy today.