Four out of ten physicians are e-mailing patients. In fact, most doctors are going online for way more than search. That’s what Jupiter Research found in their latest report, the US Online Physician Executive Survey, 2007.

Doctors have turbocharged their use of web-based applications in just the past two years. What’s caused the increased adoption in so short a period? Well, doctors are Missourian in spirit; they are a “prove it to me” bunch. Physicians are finding richer content and tools online: 50% say that the Internet helps them be more efficient in their practices. Fully 3/4 of physicians are now relying on the Internet more than they did a year ago.

Call this “evidence-based Internet adoption.”

This report puts to rest the stereotype of the physician as Internet laggard.

On the doubling of the proportion of physicians e-mailing with patients, Monique Levy, Jupiter’s lead analyst for health care, told me that the statistic “speaks to more ease around issues with security, liability, and reimbursement.”

Overall, Monique found that physicians are a “savvy audience,” and that they will adopt applications that can prove their value to doctors. For example, more doctors relative to the general population have listened to or downloaded a podcast, and watched online videos.

Another vanguard use in physicians’ behavior online is that 55% of doctors own cell phones with e-mail capability. This is far greater than the overall penetration of these devices. In fact, physicians are accessing content through a variety of digital formats, from DVRs to portable media players. Those entities who wish to reach physicians beyond their office practices need to recognize that physicians have moved on from real-time, face-to-face communication — in particular, pharmaceutical companies who find that doctors’ doors are shut to personal meetings need to better understand (and act on the fact) that doctors access clinical information from multiple channels.

While doctors are using general search engines more than they used to, 4 in 10 of physicians online look forward to using specialized search engines in 2008.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:
is the keyword: for physicians to use online applications, and for those outside the physician’s realm who want to reach them. Physicians will adopt new applications when the evidence (as the doctors perceive it) proves worthy to do so. The notion of the unwired, Internet-lagging physician is officially old news.