U.S. doctors are increasingly turning to the Web, specifically to Health Care Professional content sites, for education, professional career advice and support from other physicians, according to a new report. Medscape.com and WebMD.com are two of the most popular Websites for doctors.
In the first quarter of 2010, about 80 percent of doctors in the United States went online to visit these HCP content sites, according to an Aug. 25 report conducted by comScore and ImpactRx, a pharmaceutical insights company.
This study is part of the comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavioral Measurement initiative, which aims to track physicians' online and mobile behaviors. Overall, the report finds that physicians are increasingly turning to the Web for educational and career development, as well as to connect to other doctors through social media.
"Physicians are increasingly turning to digital media as a source of health-related information to supplement their practice," John Mangano, comScore vice president of pharmaceutical marketing solutions, wrote in a statement.
HCP sites also accounted for nearly half of total online time that physicians spent on health-related sites, the most out of the thirteen categories tracked by comScore and ImpactRX.
Other high-ranking site categories included General Health Content, which 75 percent of doctors visited. Doctors also spent time on Web sites dedicated to professional associations and pharmaceutical-related content.
Medscape.com, an HCP site which is also part of the WebMd network, ranked first and reached 57 percent of all physicians, according to the survey's analysis. WebMD.com led as the top General Health Content site, visited by 20.5 percent, while NIH.gov, the website of the National Institutes of Health, was the most-visited Government site, reaching 30.5 percent.
In the Pharmaceuticals category, Wyeth.com, owned by Pfizer, was the most-visited site, with 6.3 percent. SERMO.com, a networking site that allows doctors to connect with one another, was the most popular in the Social Media category, visited by 21.3 percent.
"The ability to understand physicians' actual online behavior rather than relying on recall-based surveys provides a more accurate view of how physicians' utilize the Internet as a health information resource," according to Mangano. "By understanding which health-related destinations are frequented by physicians, brand marketers and advertisers can effectively reach and engage this influential audience segment."
The report also looked at how long physicians spent on sites at each category. HCP garnered nearly half, 48 percent, of the total time that physicians spent on health-related content. Other categories with strong engagement included Clinic sites, with 11 percent of total minutes, and Pharma Support, with eight percent.
Although technology can provide physicians with fast access to information, it also brings about new frustrations. A recent study showed that, while nearly all doctors are using smartphones, many of them have difficulty with timely mobile communication from colleagues.