More MS news articles for May 2001

The 'Online Patient' Does Not Exist

Wednesday May 2  3:06pm
Source: PR Newswire

ERLANGEN, Germany and MONTREAL, May 2 /PRNewswire/ -- In a large online study, P\S\L Research has profiled over 11,000 online healthcare consumers within key disease areas in the USA. The results show a widely heterogeneous array of demographics and information requirements between disease areas. The key learning from this study is thus clear: e-initiatives in Healthcare require careful research and planning to ensure that offerings are in line with each particular audience and its expectations.

The study was conducted among "online health info seekers." This term covers those who access the Internet for healthcare information for themselves or on behalf of others.

Widely different usage patterns in different disease areas

A key insight provided by the study, which covers over 60 disease areas, is that requirements from the Internet vary widely between disease areas.

This variation takes place on two levels, namely what is being sought and for whom. The study compares Internet usage patterns across more than 60 disease areas. Specific analysis shows exactly what people are looking for when accessing the Internet with a particular disease area in mind. It also delivers insights into that person's relationship to the disease -- do they suffer themselves, does a family member suffer, or a colleague, etc.

One can generally say that online healthcare consumers in most disease areas are looking on their own behalf for general information to understand the specific disease. But this level of insight is worthless without understanding what is happening within each disease area.

When planning online initiatives, it is therefore not sufficient to transfer ideas from one disease area to another in the assumption that they will work the same way each time. Neither is a blanket view of healthcare consumers a likely recipe for success.

Take these examples:

Individual reports are available detailing the landscape within each of the sixty-four key disease areas. The foundations are now laid for a series of I.PT studies, which will deliver highly disease-specific data on various Internet-related topics over the coming months.

Finding Medical Information

The majority of online healthcare consumers use a general search engine (such as Yahoo or Google) when trying to locate specific healthcare information. Dedicated health sites may well be accessed for healthcare information, but they are more likely to be the result of an online search, rather than its origin.

The minority who do search within health sites perceive that they locate the required information more quickly, however.


The study also gives insight into Internet-driven issues affecting Healthcare in general, in terms of e-mail interaction with doctors, lifestyle changes and the role informed patients can play in the selection of drugs.

P\S\L Research and I.PT

P\S\L Research is a full-service opinion and marketing research agency with a global leadership position in Internet research pertaining to medicine.

The I.PT series is just one part of P\S\L's commitment to improving medical care by serving those who need it, those who practice it and those who seek to improve it.

A summary report of selected findings is available via an online registration form at

Source: P/S/L Research
Contact: Jennifer Brown, COO, of P-S-L Research, 514-938-2600,; or John Branston, Director of P-S-L e-Research Practice Europe, +49-9131-977624,