Dr google s office never closes
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Dr. Google’s office never closes. Susannah Fox Pew Internet Project April 14, 2005. Being online is the norm – but it is not universal. 61%. Broadband adoption affects the internet health marketplace. 55 million. Hypothesis: Industrial Age medicine is dead…. medical science.

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Dr. Google’s office never closes

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Dr. Google’s office never closes

Susannah Fox

Pew Internet Project

April 14, 2005

Being online is the norm – but it is not universal


Broadband adoption affects the internet health marketplace

55 million

Hypothesis:Industrial Age medicine is dead…


medical science


non-MD staff


Hypothesis: …Information Age medicine is here

my online



my search


my primary


my specialist


my online





my other

health experts

my favorite

health sites

my online



& communityware



95 million health seekers in the U.S.

  • 8 in 10 internet users have searched for at least one of 16 health topics

  • Big impact for people caring for sick loved ones

  • High expectations that reliable health care information will be online

  • Half of internet “health seekers” say they will turn first to the internet for their next health question

Specific disease and treatment information top the search list

  • 63% of internet users have looked online for information about a specific disease or medical problem

  • 47% for certain medical treatment or procedure

  • 44% for diet, nutrition, vitamins, or nutritional supplements

  • 36% for exercise or fitness

  • 34% for prescription or OTC drugs

  • Plus 11 other topics

How internet users gather health information

  • Most: Scattershot searches in response to a diagnosis

  • Some: Targeted email health news or medical updates

  • Few: Online support groups or email lists for people concerned about a particular health or medical issue

Bad information is dangerous

  • RAND/CHCF: Online advice is incomplete and hard to understand – esp. for Spanish readers

  • NEJM: Americans receive about half of recommended medical care

Three types of health seeker

  • Vigilant: 25% “always” check the source, date, and privacy policy of a health Web site

  • Concerned: 25% check “most of the time”

  • Unconcerned: 50% “only sometimes,” “hardly ever,” or “never” check


  • More Americans look for health info online than see a doctor on a typical day

  • Search engines are the starting point, not specialized sites

  • Email is used for advice and support, esp. for chronically ill & caregivers

  • Few verify information quality, but many use what they find

Contact information

  • Susannah Fox, Pew Internet & American Life Project

  • Sfox(at)pewinternet.org

  • 202 419 4500

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