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Health on the internet

india Updated: Jan 23, 2011 22:25 IST

Experts across the world suggest that future investment in health information delivered by mobile phones may prove a feasible alternative to investment in fixed line internet technology.

An online survey by Max Bupa — Bupa Health Pulse 2010 — across 12 countries, including India, the US and UK, on online information search on healthcare, revealed that 17% of all mobile phone users and 29% of all 18-29 year-old mobile users are using their phones to obtain health information. Three of the top five searches on Yahoo! originate from mobile phones.

On a broader scale, of all internet-based health-related searches, the survey finds about Indian users that:

39% seek health information online

36% use the internet to get information on medicines

28% in the higher income bracket use the internet to search for health information, compared with 21% of lower and middle income groups

26% of users with graduate level education use the internet for online health information searches more often compared with 19 % and 16 % respectively of those with primary/ secondary or technical/vocational level education

More people in India (email: 36%, text: 35%) and Mexico (email: 38%, text: 35%) report being able to text and email their doctor than elsewhere in the world

Across the 12 countries surveyed —a total of 12,262 people; 1,004 people in India — some common findings include: n Use of the internet to search online for health information varies with age and drops sharply in those aged over 35. Younger people (18% in the 18-34 years age band) use social media to find out about health

The primary use of the internet for health purposes is for finding information about medicines (68%), searching for information to make a self-diagnosis (46%) and seeking other patients’ experiences (39%).

Women are more likely (86%) to use the internet for health searches than men (77%)

Shefali Chhachhi, director marketing, Max Bupa Health Insurance, said, “In India, the use of the internet and social media will be a key source for seeking healthcare information and advice.”