Survey: Few Doctors Meet Patient Info Needs Online

Two out of three physicians in a three-city study are not providing Internet health information sought by consumers

Denver (Jan. 30, 2013) – On the heels of a Jan. 15 report by Pew Research Center revealing that 35 percent of Americans use the Internet to figure out a medical condition, an independent survey finds that only one-third of physicians in three American cities offer direct website help to health care consumers trying to understand their symptoms.

In an analysis of 300 doctors with the highest patient-satisfaction ratings in Boston, Denver and Portland, Ore., the medical marketing firm Vanguard Communications found seven of ten (69 percent) of the physicians have websites.

However, only 33 percent of those doctors’ sites provided much more than online biographies and general practice information – just 99 doctors have websites offering patient-centered information on medical conditions and possible treatments.

The portion of physicians using their websites to update patients on research and trends that could affect their health was even smaller: only 4 percent (12 doctors) had made at least one blog posting in the last year.

“Doctors in these cities are still using their websites primarily as electronic brochures about their practices rather than as online health resources,” said Ron Harman King, Vanguard CEO.

Doctors certainly have no legal or ethical obligation to do any more, King noted, especially when online health encyclopedias abound on the Internet. Nonetheless, offering more health information online could create a win-win for providers.

“In 14 years of helping doctors find new patients, our foremost conclusion is that patients look for health care information first and health care providers second,” King said. “Any doctor offering online health education engenders public trust, attracts a better informed patient and grows his practice.”

Vanguard’s analysis spanned three medical specialties: urologists, orthopedic surgeons, and obstetricians-gynecologists. To select the physician sample, the firm chose doctors with the highest patient-satisfaction ratings on, an Internet company that provides quality and safety ratings of health providers. All 300 physicians had “100-percent patient satisfaction” ratings.

Ranking highest amongst the three specialties surveyed were OB/GYNs, who provided some patient-friendly online information 45 percent of the time, while orthopedists (33 percent) and urologists (26 percent) furnished less relevant information for consumers.


About Vanguard Communications

Since 1994, Vanguard Communications has provided specialty healthcare marketing with a strategy focused on patient education guaranteed to bring new patients to specialist physicians, physician assistants, nurses and therapists in private, university and hospital practices. Through its MedMarketLink program, Vanguard combines the disciplines of online and offline PR, strategic marketing and information technology for healthcare providers coast to coast.

Media Contact: Jessica McLaughlin | 303-382-2999 | [email protected]