35% of Americans ask Dr. Google for medical diagnoses (and 70% ask real Dr. first, unchanged since 2002)

35% of Americans ask Dr. Google for medical diagnoses – As reported in today’s USAToday, as published in Health Online 2013 | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released today. Another fine piece of internet geology by community colleague Susannah Fox (@susannahfox).

Primary source for health information: not much change since 2002

I went back and compared health seeking behavior from 2002, 2011, and 2012 (when this latest survey was done), and found … not much change in terms of primary source for health information. Click here to link to those reports, I really did review them, it’s all about accuracy in this social media world :).

Is it okay if I quote myself? I’m going to anyway, from my post on being a family physician in the decade of the patient:

The decade of the patient is only going to make you, compassionate, caring, curious, doctor, even more important in people’s lives. All you have to do is keep listening.

Here are a few additional comparison slides. I did read the whole report, and you should, too, because there’s a lot more information there than just this data. For example, I also noted is that more respondents this time reported getting health information from their doctor online (instead of in person), 8% up from 4% in 2011. It’s a journey, we’re all necessary and as our patients changing, our doctors are changing, too. I think there’s a bright future ahead for all of us, together.

Do you see other interesting trends as a patient, doctor, member of society?


Yes, 70% still trust us physicians. But what percentage of patients are using face-to-face visits versus online or social technologies to get that information from us?

Dermdoc Great question – it’s the one I asked too. susannahfox has us covered there  – the data shows 61% (!) out of the 70% get it in person, 1 % online , 8 % both. That also gets a (!) from me. Physicians such as yourself are in the 1% and 8% category. We have some work to do, you are leading the way, and glad Susannah is now tracking the way people get the info, PS we miss you already, Ted

Ted Eytan  As my 10 yo niece says every time she leaves to go home: “Well, Uncle Jeff, it’s back to your boring life.” 
And so, it is.

Dermdoc Ted Eytan Isn’t it interesting that we find life less boring when we’re collaborating and learning from each other. I feel it every time I shadow, both for the shadowee and the shadower. Your comment prompted me to find this quote from Sidney Garfield, MD’s biography:
“Garfield later made the case for the virtues of group practice to physicians in
Portland, Oregon, when he told a meeting of the Multnomah County Medical As-
sociation in 1945: “It has always been a paradox that group practice is the method
used to teach medicine of the highest type — all university medical schools are group
practice operations — yet the individual physician is taught to go into solo practice.
Group practice is essential because as medical

knowledge increases in mass and complexity,
no one doctor can learn the entire field …
This produces both quality and economy.”
If this is what your niece was getting at, we should figure out how to create an environment that’s as enriching as the one your niece enjoys when she’s around you. What’s her first name? Let’s name this effort after her,

Ted Eytan, MD