I did it last night – did you? I looked up information online about that strange pain in my side. Was it my appendix? Gallstones? That dinner at the airport?
Turns out I am not alone. In fact, an estimated 85% of women use the Internet to obtain health information, and two out of three go to the Internet to find information about a health issue.
These are some of the findings from a recently conducted TNS survey where we asked 512 women about a variety of health issues. I presented these findings today at the second annual M2W®–HC™ — Marketing Pharma & Healthcare to Women Conference, as well as 10 trends and developments that will likely affect communications activities in 2011. Here are the first five. You can find the full data results from the 10-question survey here (link).
1. Facebook is Changing the Game…Again — Social networking is central to women’s Internet experiences. Facebook is evolving and focusing more on “how” people communicate – from the recent introduction of the groups feature allows people to engage in more closed off communities to this week’s announcement of a range of new messaging features that will compete with email and let people communicate directly with one another. These features will impact how women share and speak with one another within Facebook about more private issues, specifically health issues.
2. Dr. Google Is Always “In” – Dr. Google is becoming a first-line of defense for health for today’s American families, with one in three women (36%) agreeing that, at times, online health information does a better job at keeping their families healthy than visiting a doctor. The survey also found that women rely on the Internet to obtain health information because it is quick (67%), available any time of day (64%), and less expensive than going to the doctor (29%). For communicators, this means that we must provide clear, responsible and accurate educational information online.
3. Managing Healthcare Costs Is A Continued Concern – Healthcare costs (overall and insurance) rank high on women’s’ lists of health concerns for 2011, with 31% of those surveyed believing that their ability to manage their family’s healthcare costs is worse compared to last year. This reinforces the need to communicate the value proposition of a new service, device or treatment.
4. Blogs Will Become Even More Influential – More than half of women are reading blogs. As my colleague, Kevin Silverman, pointed out in his posting (link), when you see that 43% of women read blogs to “seek advice and recommendations,” it becomes clear that they are seeking information presented with a point of view. This means that if women are searching a blog for information about a product or condition, they want to know about that person’s experience with the product to help guide their purchase.
5. Moms Take Shortcuts With Their Health Due to the Economic Downturn – More than a third of women (36%) with children under the age of 18 were unable to go to a physician, and a third of them were unable to fill prescriptions for themselves during the financial downturn. For care providers, providing mom-friendly hours, facilities and resources may help bring them back. Others should consider discounts and loyalty cards, and I am sure a bit of mom pampering could go a long way.
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing five additional trends and developments that will likely affect communications activities in 2011. Stay tuned!
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