A smart healthcare marketing blog
April 2014

Who Is The Online Health Information Seeker?

Four in five internet users have researched health info on the web. Health information seekers account for 59% of all US adults. Yet as healthcare marketers we spend millions trying to find, reach and convert these evasive surfers! Who are they? What do they look for?

I have sourced a demographic breakdown from the Pew Internet and Life Project research which breaks down our audience and will share it with you today.

It is also common for health info seekers to be research on behalf of someone else, such as a parent. According to Pew, nearly half of web users who looked for health info online most recently did so for another person. Seven in 10 health info seekers were currently caring for a loved one.


Gender Breakdown :: As common healthcare decision makers it is no surprise that women make up 65% of online healthcare information seekers.  Men make up a more than 50%.

Age Breakdown :: The largest percentage of online users of health information are aged between 18 and 29. This segment of users are very familiar with the web and probably use it for daily tasks and communicating more than our more mature age groups.

Closely following are the 30 to 49 age group at 66%.  With kids and elderly family members this group has a wide range of responsibility.

Although the 65 plus age group is the smallest in this survey it is a growing segment of the healthcare market with the aging population living well into their eighties.

Ethnicity Breakdown :: 50% of both Africian American and Hispanic seek health information online. Just above 60% of Caucasians look online for disease specific data.

Income Breakdown :: Higher earners dominate the online health information hunting. 83% of those who make $75,000 plus go online the most. While only 41% of users who make less than $31,000 look online for health solutions. As the average salary in the US is $31,000 we are neglecting an important segment of our society. Is it not our duty as healthcare marketers to reach out to this struggling segment of society? Tweet me your suggestions on how to help do this.

Education Breakdown :: Not surprisingly, 81% of those users who went to graduate school look online for health information while only 24% with some high school do the same. These statistics are quite concerning in a time when patients, educated or not, need to be informed,  engaged and proactive with their personal health.

What type of Health Information do internet users look up online?

  • 66% of online medical seekers look for information about a specific disease state of medical problem.
  • 56% look for certain medical treatments or new procedures.
  • 44% of online surfers are looking for a doctor.
  • 36% of online users go online to look for a hospital.
  • 33% of healthcare seekers go online to look for information about their heath insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

The key for healthcare  marketers is to understand that the majority of web users are empowered consumers of health information, they are well educated, high-earning users. They are our current audience and they go online to understand medical conditions of themselves and loved ones, get informed about symptoms or treatments, and sometimes, to connect with others with similar problems.

But we have a duty to look out for the less fortunate segment of society. We should provide these  health info seekers with credible information, help them connect with others, and equip them with tools and education will gain trust and hold their interest. Please tweet me at @nicolaziady with strategies or tactics you have used to do this.

Tweetable Facts ::

65% of females look online for health related information.

18 to 29 year old make up 71% of online health information seekers.

63% of whites seek health information online.

Those who make upwards of $75,000 make up 83% of online information surfers.


Good Article Nicola. But most medical information online is stale content replicated on every website. While it is useful to some extent getting answer from a doctor is far better. With this in mind I create where users can

Take a look at and let me know how to make it more useful

Good Article Nicola. But most medical information online is stale content replicated on every website. While it is useful to some extent getting answer from a doctor is far better. With this in mind I create where users can get specific answer to medical question from a doctor.”

Take a look at and let me know how to make it more useful

I love your Blog, it’s nice when you can tell somebody actuallly puts effort into a blog, and gives the blogs value.


Excellent information as always.

I would be very interested in insights anyone might have on what tyoes of engagement consumers would be interested in seeing when they search. For example, if they were searching for information on a specific type of cancer would the welcome a reply which pointed them to a link which cottoned valuable current information relevant to their search ?

Jack Florio, Swarmology

Great points and well sourced, Nicola. I would add “the when factor”–as I put it. The majority of these topics researched online can also be sought after the point of care. That takes the responsibility from the marketer and puts the relationship in the hands of the caregiver. It’s a partnership and hand-off between marketers to clinical professionals. Relevant, timely and valuable health information integrated within EHRs, as well as available to patient navigators and support providers–can augment the necessary medical care/advice. “When” can help improve compliance, re-admissions and patient satisfaction across all demographics.

Excellent insights..very helpful indeed Nicola. Would you by any chance have similar data for Indian market?

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