Doctors Are Preferred Source of Health Information, New Vivacare Survey Shows

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Patients seeking health information online will most likely refer to their own doctor's Website, and 87% report that online access to patient handouts is helpful.

Skin Cancer Prevention Handout from Belaray Dermatology

Patients prefer to learn about their health from their own doctor, the person they have already entrusted with their care”, said Mark Becker, M.D. pediatrician and President of Vivacare.

Patients prefer to get health information from the source they trust most, their own doctor, according to new survey results from Vivacare.

When asked what Website they were most likely to visit when seeking health information, 65.2% of the survey respondents said that they were "most likely" to refer to their own doctor's Website.

Patients reported being more likely to visit their doctor's site than WebMD (48.7%), professional organizations (47.4%), the National Library Medicine (27.3%), Wikipedia (23.3%),and insurance companies (18.2%). Only 5.4% respondents stated that they were "most likely" to refer to a pharmaceutical company Website.

A 2010 Harris Poll, reported that 62% of all U.S. adults looked for health information online last month. According to this new survey from Vivacare, the majority of these health consumers would prefer to get that information directly from their own doctor.

Vivacare provides physicians and their medical practices with patient education services to help them meet the needs of their patients and community. Physicians enrolled for Vivacare's "From Your Doctor" patient education service can create personalized and customizable patient handouts that they publish to their own practice Website to help patients better understand and manage their health.

For example, Dr. Daniel Siegel, a dermatologist in private practice at Long Island Skin and Dermatologic Surgery has enhanced his practice Website with a collection of patient handouts regarding acne, actinic keratosis, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and skin cancer.

"Patients prefer to learn about their health from the person they have already entrusted with their medical care", said Mark Becker, M.D. pediatrician and President of Vivacare. "Vivacare makes it easy for doctors to provide patients with relevant health information that supports their professional judgment," he added. "Patients are going online to learn about their diagnosis and treatment options, but it is important that they reinforce their understanding of their own doctor's perspective before receiving 2nd and 3rd opinions from anonymous online sources", added Dr. Becker.

As evidence that the Vivacare service reaches health consumers at the point of care, 60.2% of respondents stated that they were an existing patient of the practice and 62.4% reported having an appointment to see the physician within the following 6 months. 87.5% of respondents stated that they found access to health information on their doctor's Websites to be either "very" or "moderately" helpful.

The survey was conducted in September 2010 and completed by 105 visitors to dermatologists' Websites. 74% of the respondent were between the ages of 30 and 70 years old.

About Vivacare
Vivacare, based in Berkeley, California, provides patient education services at no cost to physicians within 12 medical specialties, including allergists, dermatologists, and primary care physicians.

Vivacare partners with a variety of medical organizations, including patient advocacy groups and pharmaceutical firms to cost-effectively distribute information about their products and services at the point of care. Vivacare has implemented programs that support the management of patients with allergies, Alzheimer's disease, asthma, epilepsy, rosacea, and tremor.

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Mary Ann Walker
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