Indians are becoming more aware about their health and health care needs and are increasingly using Internet to seek answers
New international research released today by Max Bupa has found that of more than one third Indians (39 %) go online for health information. The percentage of people using the internet for finding health solutions in other emerging nations are Russia (39 %), China (32 %), Brazil (29 %) and Mexico (27 %). The high cost of face-to-face consultations with medical professionals may be one reason for this, with the internet seen as a cheaper alternative.Â
The research also indicates that use of the internet to search online for health information varies with age and its use drops sharply in those aged 35 and over across the 12 countries. Higher levels of education and income are associated with higher levels of online searching. The primary use of the internet for health purposes is finding information about medicines (68 % of respondents) in all countries. Other uses include searching for information to make a self-diagnosis (46 %) and seeking other patientsâ€™ experiences (39 %).
There are significant variations amongst the countries in Bupa Health Pulse 2010 though. 87 % of respondents in Russia made use of the internet to obtain information on medicines, followed by 76 % in Mexico. The lowest rate was seen in China (60 %). Russia was also among those countries that had the highest proportion of internet users seeking information to help make a self-diagnosis, along with the US (58 %), the UK (58 %) and China (56 %). In countries such as the UK and France only 12 % and 14 % of respondents respectively were looking for information on medical professionals, compared with 36 % in the US and India.
The survey also indicated that nearly 28 % of the respondents from India in the higher income bracket made use of the internet to search for information often compared with 21 % of the lower and middle income groups. 26 % of those with graduate level education in India made use of the internet for online health information searches more often compared with 19 % and 16 % respectively for those with primary/ secondary or technical/vocational level education.
More young people (in the age 18-24 and 25-34 bracket) have used social media to find out about health.18 % of respondents were using social networking sites to find out about healthcare issues and most of the top healthcare websites are largely geared towards the scientific and academic communities and individuals from the US and India are their main users. Lower levels of Facebook use are found in non-English speaking high income countries such as Germany and Spain; however this in part reflects the presence of strong local alternative social networks.Â
Commenting on the Bupa Health Pulse 2010 survey findings, Ms Shefali Chhachhi, Director-Marketing, Max Bupa Health Insurance said, â€œ There is a plethora of information available on the internet and now people have begun to use online health-related information to help them understand various health related issues and make more informed choices. In a country like ours the use of internet and social media will be a key source for seeking health care information and advice. As their health care partners, we offer our customers access to information on health and well being through our website and in direct communications with our customers.â€
For more information on the Bupa Health Pulse 2010 survey and the report â€œOnline Health: Untangling the webâ€, please visit www.healthpulse.com
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