ADI’s report is based on an online survey of 1,000 consumers ages 18-plus, as well as aggregated and anonymized data on visits to 650 websites (with more than 17 billion visits combined since January 2015) across the health-care ecosystem.
ADI found the most-visited types of health-care sites related to offering information for self-diagnosis; for interacting with health insurance, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies; for finding services offered by doctors, dentists, clinics, or hospitals; and for practitioners.
Of these segments, two—consumer information and provider sites—receive nearly half or more of their traffic from mobile devices, according to ADI. Practitioner and health-care company sites remain desktop-centric.
As in many other industries, smartphones are the only devices providing growth in visits to health-care websites. In fact, visits across all segments from smartphones are up 41% since January 2015, while desktop and tablet traffic are down 23% and 44%, respectively.
Of note, all four health-care segments have seen overall website visits decrease by 9% in the past 30 months. The one bright spot where visits increased over time is among practitioner sites (+15%), suggesting health-care professionals are constantly seeking new information, said Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst at ADI.
“Another interesting finding is that the path to health-care websites differs between smartphones and desktop,” Schreiner said. “Smartphone users leverage marketing channels more to find a website, while desktop traffic relies on recall.”
To that point, more than three-quarters (76%) of traffic to health-care websites is by natural search or direct URL.
It is important to note, however, that in the health-care space smartphones serve a very different purpose than desktop devices. Smartphones are used to track activity, refill prescriptions, and locate or schedule services. But more time-intensive activities, including the enrollment and purchase of insurance, still happen on the desktop.
Speaking of insurance, ADI found that interest in health-care information correlates with the insured population. “There is no geographic bias or hotspots in terms of consumers looking for health-care information on consumer information sites,” Schreiner explained. “A state’s share of visits nearly equals its share of insured population.”
Unsurprisingly, digital savviness among health-care consumers breaks along generational lines. For example, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation (those 50-plus) were more than twice as likely to say they are not digital savvy, compared with generations who have grown up with technology (38% versus 16%).
That’s a problem, according to Schreiner, considering that health-care spending is higher among older folks. “Because comfort with digital technology decreases with age, and health-care costs increase with age, the industry faces a challenge in reaching older consumers,” Schreiner said. “Those spending the most also need the most help in understanding and using technology.”
But regardless of age and technological advancements, consumers said that quality of care and services is the same as it was five years ago.
“What’s also interesting is that consumers’ perception that costs have increased,” Schreiner said. “We were, however, somewhat surprised at the level of responses that stated costs have stayed the same, given all the media attention on costs rising faster than inflation.”
View the full report below, or click here to view it on SlideShare.