The fact that physicians access health information digitally is not big news; but, where they’re going online may surprise some health marketers who are shifting educational and promotional resources to online portals.  

4 in 5 physicians access health care professional sites, the most visited online sources for physician seeking health information online; these sites get nearly one-half of physicians’ time online, and 1/3 of total visits among all health categories, according to a report from the comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavioral Measurement database.

However, one of the long-standing sources of information for doctors — medical journals — only reaches 30% of physicians, and doctors spend a mere 1% of their time online on medical journal sites. Among medical journals online, the #1 source is the New England Journal of Medicine with 13% reach.

The most visited site for HCP content is Medscape, with a 57% reach of physicians. Other sites attracting large shares of physicians online include general health content sites, like WebMD, attracting 21% of physicians; Association sites such as AAFP, with a 17% reach among doctors; Pharma Support, such as, with a 22% reach; and Government websites, such as, with a 31% reach. The top social media site is, reaching 21% of physicians.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  From social networking on Sermo to  seeking physicians for referrals on HealthGrades, doctors are well past the tipping point of going online. Now, for health marketers, the big challenge is where to find them, and how to keep them coming back for content, services, and socializing.

Look at the column in the chart titled “Share of Minutes at Health Categories.” This is quite telling. While pluralities of physicians visit most health categories, they’re not spending much time on any of them except for professional content sites like Medscape (with nearly one-half of time spent online). The rest of the online health categories, including social media, get small bits and pieces of time in between patient visits, hospital rounds, and personal lives.

For the present time, it’s the professional sites that are sticky and well-visited.