How Physicians Use the Web: A Few Clues

March 23, 2011
Marisa Torrieri

A new report sheds some light on how physicians are using the Web.

Smart practices don’t need a study to know that having decent online provider ratings and SEO can draw in new patients. All they need to know is how patients use the Web to find doctors and health information. 

And now, for the curious patients and marketers targeting physicians out there, a new report conducted by comScore, sheds some light on how physicians are using the Web.

According to the comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavioral Measurement Solution, a digital measurement system that ties actual physicians’ online behavior to their prescription-writing activities, visits to physicians are driven primarily by direct, non-referred access, and natural search techniques. This, in turn, points to the importance of building brand awareness and effective SEO strategies in order to reach physicians online, according to researchers.

Research revealed that network referred visits (traffic referred by ad networks involving push or interference) accounted for 15 percent of physicians’ traffic to social media sites and 10 percent of health-related insurance sites. Another finding: Non-referred visits (which include traffic originating from bookmarks or directly accessing the site via URL address) accounted for the majority of physicians’ traffic across many site categories including Pharmacy Services (73 percent), Pharma Support (67 percent) and Clinic Sites (59 percent).

“By observing physicians’ actual online behaviors, we are able to understand the inherent differences in how physicians research health content compared to patients,” said John Mangano, comScore vice president of health marketing solutions, in a press release.

As it turns out, physicians have different browsing behaviors than patients when it comes to accessing health information online, Mangano added, as they generally begin a session with a clearer picture of what they’re trying to achieve.

The comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavior Measurement Solution contains a panel of 1,000 physicians that have opted-in to have their Internet activity measured to identify trends in their online behavior.