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Health-E Minds Series: Healthcare Providers and Technology - Top Statistics of 2014

Top 13 Statistics on How Doctors Use Technology

A few weeks ago, I experienced a medical
emergency and saw a nurse [[wysiwyg_imageupload:187:]]practitioner. During our appointment, I was surprised to see her using an iPhone to look up information. With just a few taps on the screen of the same device I use to check my email and listen to music, she made decisions about my medical care.

Seeing my nurse practitioner use her mobile device during my appointment made me curious to how health care providers use technology. After researching the topic, I found out that providers’ use of digital technologies extends far beyond the point of patient care. Tools such as search engines, mobile devices, online video and social media platforms have an enormous impact on healthcare providers learn, share and connect with patients in clinical practices.

Over the past few weeks, I compiled statistics that show just how essential digital technologies are to modern clinical practice. However, because there is so much to cover, this is the first in a three-part series on how healthcare providers use technology in their clinical practices. The first post will cover how doctors use search engines, online video platforms (e.g., YouTube), and email. The remaining posts in the series will focus on:

  • how doctors use social media, What these trends mean for marketers, and
  • what you can do to make sure you are reaching doctors online.

Here are the top 13 statistics illustrating how digital technologies are integral to clinical practice:

1. Compared to print, physicians spend twice as much time using online resources to make clinical decisions.

Physicians prefer online resources such as professional websites, drug references, mobile apps, and email newsletters over print resources such as journals and reference materials.

2. Doctors spend
the majority of their time online using resources to make clinical decisions.

Exactly what percentage depends on the doctor’s age. Younger physicians under 45 years of age spend 77% of their time while physicians over age 55 spend 64% of their time.


3. 71% of doctors start patient research with a search engine. Almost all of them use Google.

Doctors use search engines more than any other online resource or website to kick off their online research. Of the doctors who search, 94% of them use Google.

4. 84% of physicians perform an average of six professional searches per day.

Physicians are heavy users of search engines and use them throughout their day to look up information related to their job. On the weekend or after work, 70% of doctors use search engines to find clinical and treatment information. 

93% of physicians take action as a result of a search.

Doctors mean business when they search for information online. Top actions taken after searching include conducting additional research online and sharing information with a patient. 

One in 3 doctors click first on sponsored listings.

“No one clicks on the ads” is a myth. 33% of doctors click on sponsored listings such as Google search ads and report they are useful, relevant, efficient, and trustworthy. 

7.  P
hysicians typically conduct 1 to 2 searches when performing research.

Efficient searchers, physicians conduct just one or two searches and almost half do not change search terms while searching. They also typically only stay on the first page of search results.



8. 84% of physicians use a smartphone in their clinical practice.

Doctors use their smartphones to search, check email, Google diseases, and check professional sites for up-to-date answers.

9. 62% of doctors would exit a site if it was not a good experience for their smartphone.

Doctors do not have time to pinch and zoom on sites sized for desktop computers. They are quick to leave if a page is not optimized.

10. Physicians spend about three hours per week watching video online for professional purposes.

Types of medical videos watched online by doctors include:

  • 43% - Disease or condition information
  • 37% - Health news
  • 36% - Information about a specific drug or treatment
  • 13% - Video clips to show patients

They also spend an additional 3 hours per week watching online video for personal purposes.

11. 85% of doctors who watch professional video online have taken action as a result of watching the video.

Actions include:

  • 49% - Search for more information online
  • 38% - Share information with a patient
  • 34% - Change or make a decision about treatment for a patient

12. More than 2 of 3 of physicians use video to learn and stay up-to-date with clinical information.

Doctors are very busy and seek convenient solutions to learning online. Videos are entertaining, contain a lot of information in a short amount of time, and are great way for time-strapped doctors to learn.


Not convinced? A number of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and professional medical associations use YouTube to reach doctors and other members of the medical community.

13. 39% of physicians currently email, secure message, or instant message their patients.

This represents a 14% increase since 2006. Dermatologists and medical oncologists are the physician specialist groups most likely to communicate with patients online.

Parting Thoughts

Digital technology has transformed everything about our lives, including how our doctors care for us. Have you seen your doctor use a smartphone, tablet, or laptop during one of your appointments? If so, how did it make you feel?

Doctors familiar with mobile apps and online technology know how convenient and easy to use it is for consumers. A January 2013 survey found that 89% of doctors were likely to recommend a mobile health app to patients. Has your doctor ever recommended an app for you to use or directed you to an online resource during an appointment?

Share your experiences in the comments!

Stay tuned for part two of the “Healthcare Providers and Technology” series, in which the top statistics on how doctors use social media in their clinical practices will be shared.