The “Doctoralia Report on Health and the Internet 2015” presents the results of a study performed simultaneously in Spain, Italy, France, Frazil, Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina in December 2014.
The study was performed by Doctoralia and directed by Dr. Francisco Lupiáñez-Villanueva, partner and director of Open Evidence, a spin-off of the Open University of Catalonia. It had a sample of more than 4,000 surveys worldwide.
In an environment characterized by the rising use of the Internet for consultations and other health-related activities, this study allows us to size up this new scene and make comparisons between the different participating countries.
1st Doctoralia Report on Health and the Internet 2015
Summary of the main conclusions
Below are some of the most important conclusions that can be drawn from the study. The total and detailed results can also be downloaded by following the link on the top of this article.
NEW PATIENT PROFILES
The information consultation habits on the Internet are changing. One of the first conclusions revealed by this study is that the combination of the Internet, mobile devices (like mobile telephones and tablets) and wearables allows us to distinguish three different profiles: the ePatient, the mPatient and the wPatient.
These three profiles have different socio-demographic characteristics, as outlined in the attached report.
NEW INFORMATION AND COMMUNCATION FLOWS
The emergence of new patient profiles is related not only to the use of technology but also to the transformation in information and communication flows between patients, professionals and healthcare organizations.
In the report, we analyze the differences by factors like sex, age, educational level and health status when using the Internet as a source of information on health-related topics. The results show how women search for more health-related information. Furthermore, a large number of users acts as information “nodes”, in that they not only search for information for themselves but also tend to do it for people near them or in their care.
Beyond information searches, there are other kinds of activities related to health and wellbeing which users are performing on the Internet. The most prominent ones are checking other people’s comments on their health-related experiences and checking opinions on medicines or treatments. Users also often check opinions or reviews of physicians or physician appointments, and conduct searches for people with the same health problem.
All of these activities can be grouped into four major factors which can be interpreted as the dimensions that prompt the use of the Internet in health beyond merely searching for information. These dimensions that group together related activities are: Experience, Participation, Services and Appointments.
With the advent of mobile technology in healthcare, many new applications have emerged. In the study, we group the mHealth activities into three major dimensions: tracking or monitoring, managing health and activities related to wellbeing.
Each of these dimensions includes several types of healthcare applications:
BARRIERS AND IMPACT
Finally, we analyze the most important barriers or hurdles on inquiring or generating content related to health on the Internet, as well as the benefits of doing so.
According to the results, the general perception of these benefits is quite high among all users. The Internet is empowering them to open up on healthcare issues, to take a greater interest in the issues that affect them and to share the knowledge they acquire.
To check the complete results of the study, download the report at the link located on the upper part of this article.