Online health information could supplant doctors

Like it or not, online health information--regardless of its accuracy--likely will supplant doctors as the primary source of health information as consumers grow more eHealth savvy.

About 169 million U.S. adults (or 72 percent of all adults) went online to research a health question in 2010, compared with 63 million in 2002, according to Manhattan Research's Cybercitizen Health U.S. survey, which asked more than 8,000 adults about their media consumption and Internet behavior.

Consumers' online research activity has given rise to a more empowered patient, who doesn't necessarily accept what the doctor diagnoses or recommends for treatment. In fact, information found online may lead the patient to skip seeing a doctor. Some 99 million U.S. adults did at least one of the following after finding health information online:

  • Challenged their doctor's treatment or diagnosis.
  • Asked that their doctor change the treatment.
  • Discussed information found online at an appointment.
  • Used the Internet instead of going to the doctor.
  • Made a healthcare decision based on online information.

Among the most web-empowered patient groups are consumers with mental health or pain-related conditions. Meredith Ressi, vice president of research at Manhattan Research isn't surprised. "In the absence of clear diagnostic measures for these conditions, it is often up to consumers to advocate for themselves to get the help they need," she said in a press release.
To learn more:
- read the Manhattan Research press release