Optum's PatientsLikeMe survey: 57% of patients research treatment online rather than consulting physician

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Most patients are using the internet to evaluate their treatment options rather than working with their physician, according to a recent study by Optum's PatientsLikeMe.

Optum Ventures acquired PatientsLikeMe, a healthcare technology startup, in 2019.

For its study, PatientsLikeMe surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers about the challenges they undergo searching for reliable health information and their perception of the process.

Five study insights:

  1. Nearly a third of respondents (31 percent) said symptoms were the health information they searched for the most, followed by 21 percent who said treatment options.

  2. The plurality of respondents (39 percent) said they get reliable health information from search engines, such as Google; 34 percent said they use symptom-checker sites, such as WebMD or mayoclinic.org; 16 percent said news sites; and 11 percent said social media sites.

  3. Forty-three percent of respondents said they use their physicians as a resource to evaluate treatment options, followed by 23 percent who said search engines, 23 percent who said symptom-checker sites, 9 percent who said social media and 2 percent who said they rely on peer groups. 

  4. Most respondents (76 percent) said they trust their physician the most for health information, followed by 10 percent who said someone else with the condition, 9 percent who said friends and family, 3 percent who said the news, and 2 percent who said social media.

  5. Most respondents (54 percent) said the pandemic hasn't affected how they search for reliable health data, followed by 34 percent who said it has made it more complicated and 12 percent who said it has made it less complicated.

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