Nearly 1 in 2 U.S. adults now uses social media in health, according to Manhattan Research’s latest look into Cybercitizens, fielded in Q311. That 45% of U.S. health consumers use social media in health is a significantly higher percentage than recent studies fielded by PwC and Deloitte, which have found about 1 in 3 consumers using social media for health.

Manhattan Research defines social media use in health as having created or consumed health-related user-generated content on blogs, social networks, health ratings websites, online health communities and message boards, or patient testimonials. Key findings are that,

  • 14% of health-social media folks are “health-sharers,” per the researchers’ definition. These people have posted an entry or comment on a health blog, a message on a health message board or online community, a patient testimonial, or health ratings online (sub population of health social media users).
  • 26% are mobile health users, performing a health-related activity on a mobile phone in the past 12 months, such as used a search engine to find health information; sent data tracked for managing a medical condition to their doctor or nurse; tracked and managed a medical condition; used a prescription or refill reminder service; used prescription drug coupons or other discounts; used recipes, meal planners, or nutrition trackers; used exercise programs; used a community, group or support network for health; used a symptom checker; received health reminders or alerts; managed insurance benefits; located a doctor or health service; read health news; or other health activities.
  • 30% are online health video watchers, viewing online health video in the past 12 months, such as videos about diseases or conditions, health news, prescription drugs or treatments, well-being or healthy living, exercise or fitness, patients discussing their condition or treatment, healthcare professionals discussing conditions or treatments, or medical procedures.

Over the years, Manhattan Research has looked into specific patient groups’ use of digital health resources. This year, they found that, on average,

  • U.S. adults use digital health resources 3 times a month
  • Adult ADHD patients, 6 times per month
  • MS patients, 7 times per month
  • RA patients, 4 times per month.

Maureen Malloy of Manhattan Reserach also shared that certain patient groups, including MS and ADHD patients, are significantly more likely to actively seek out health-related social media and online video than the average consumer.

These findings come from Digital Health 2012: Benchmarking Patient Adoption of the Internet and Consumer Electronics for Health, Manhattan Research’s Cybercitizen Health U.S. 2011 study into how U.S. consumers use the Internet, digital media, mobile devices, and other technologies for health. The study was fielded in Q3 2011 among 8,745 U.S. adults (age 18 and over) online and on the phone.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: In an increasingly healthcareDIY world, people are carrying over their adoption of social media for household, financial, and personal management into health. The majority of mobile phones on the street are now smartphones, and the growing use of tablet computing, has made it even easier for people to manage social transactions on-the-go. In particular, recent surveys on “mobile moms” find women adopting mobile technologies from the birth of their children (and even earlier, using apps like Text4Baby, MotherKnows and HealthTap) to tap into social networks with other new and experienced moms for support, advice, and social interaction.

That cadres of patients with MS and ADHD are going mobile-social shows that these tools are getting more accessible and better designed to attract adoption by people managing complex chronic diseases. The better designed, the more useable and adopted these tools become.

Manhattan Research’s higher benchmark of 45% of health consumers going social is a watershed statistic indicating that health is, indeed, social, online and off.