In our increasingly digital world, we can order dinner, schedule a dry cleaning pick-up, and control home security from anywhere around the globe. But this “life of convergence” at our fingertips does not end at the efficient completion of everyday tasks; it has evolved the way we engage in our health, health care and wellbeing.

Findings from the Fifth Annual Makovsky/Kelton Pulse of Online Health Survey, released by Makovsy Health yesterday, show that digitally empowered patients are actively participating in their health – from leveraging wearable devices and online apps to manage their care, to searching online for medical information and support. The survey, which explores consumer behaviors for engaging in health information (web searches, medication preferences, and digital health engagement), sheds fresh light on the ways that digital is influencing patient health.

For the modern day consumer, online access has pushed us to be information-driven, and this does not stop when it comes to our health. In fact, 77% of Americans spend time online searching for health information. Patients are seeking faster access to data and newer technologies allowing easy to-use, do-it-yourself platforms, and the information to help them take control of their health decisions.

For example, with 59% of patients likely to ask for a prescription medication by name, consumers are going into their appointments educated in advance about their health needs. Patients are also becoming increasingly self-reliant when it comes to their health and wellbeing. With the explosion of wearable options in the marketplace, and with rising numbers of patients who would consider using them (79%), patients now have an arsenal of tools enabling them to track and quantify their health. All of these factors create an environment for informed dialogue between patients and doctors about care.

Mobile applications, including wearables, have shown a rise in popularity – especially for people seeking to manage a diagnosed medical condition. Consumers diagnosed with a mental health, gastrointestinal, obesity, pulmonary or cardiovascular condition, answered with a higher willingness to use mobile applications (83%, 79%, 78%, 75%, and 73% respectively) than the general population (66%), demonstrating that patients are actively seeking out new technologies to help them better understand and keep an existing condition under control.

Faith in technology is rising, and patients are digitally empowered. As health marketers, where does this leave us?

Now more than ever, patients are at the center of their personal healthcare web – having direct access to a wide selection of different sources (HCPs, online search, wearables, mobile apps). What we, as marketers, need to do is continue to adapt to the new empowered patient. With our world being so digitally focused, and consumers having access to content at all times throughout the day, people are now looking for information – constantly. By being at the forefront of addressing this ongoing hunger for content we can more openly engage with our target. Healthcare is no longer a market where people like being “sold” – consumers are looking to engage, to take a stand for better health, and we can help guide the two way conversation.

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