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Doctors' practices online

GPs are embracing new technologies and accessing more professional information from home

In a departure from the usual investigation into doctors' views of sales force activities in different therapy areas, this month's GP monitor looks at the 2009 survey into doctor behaviour online. Doctors' online activity is evolving like everyone else's and it is useful for pharmaceutical companies to understand these changing habits so that they can target their communication to doctors accordingly.

How often do you log on to

The aim of the annual survey, conducted by medeConnect Healthcare Insight (part of the group) is to ascertain how doctors use the internet and what their views on new technologies are. A total of 3,242 doctors responded to 30 different questions online. 62 per cent of those that responded are male, 38 per cent are female and 68 per cent are married. 27 per cent are primary care physicians, while 73 per cent were secondary care physicians, with the most secondary care responses coming from anaesthetists and psychiatrists. 62 per cent of the doctors surveyed said they log on to at least once a day, with over half of these logging on multiple times in a day.


From where do you use specifically? regularly assesses where the doctors access the website from, and its findings over the last five years have revealed a shift  towards home and work becoming more closely aligned. This illustrates that, increasingly, doctors are accessing clinical information in the comfort of their own homes; a factor for pharmaceutical companies to consider when aiming to target their communications more effectively.2009 was the first year in which professional search was given as the most popular reason (alongside leisure information) for using the internet. This goes to show that the internet is now an integral part of a doctor's social and professional life. Google is stated as the most popular website, with 86 per cent of doctors using the search engine website. Interestingly, there is high use of the BBC too. The findings highlighted a rising use of user generated content sites (Wiki) and "tailored" personalised websites (BBC, iGoogle). It would be worthwhile following up this question so as to understand exactly what doctors use these websites for.

For what purpose do you use the internet?


The question of which mobile devices are used to access the web and how often revealed that doctors are fairly "tech savvy". 30 per cent of those surveyed have used a mobile device to access the internet. However, the device still used the most often is the computer, with 96 per cent of doctors surveyed stating that they used a computer "most of the time".

Which, if any, of the following websites do you use?


This is the first year that this question has been put to respondents, so it will be interesting to see how this changes in future.

Doctors (like the general population) are using iPods more frequently. A total of 64 per cent of doctors surveyed have some form of MP3 player, with 50 per cent of doctors owning an iPod specifically. From previous surveys, we know this is primarily used to listen to music, but podcast downloads are increasing. The recent podcast by the CMO, Sir Liam Donaldson, on swine flu, was played more than 600 times in four days and the recent podcasts on the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) was used by more than 7,300 doctors.

Do you have an ipod?


Accessible online
The 2009 survey results reveal that doctors are embracing new technologies and accessing more professional information online and from home. This means that doctors are increasingly accessible online to the pharmaceutical industry. The challenge is that they use the internet on their own terms and in their own time and so can't be forced to view content. As found in the 2008 member survey, online programmes that doctors value must contain clinically relevant content, benefit a doctor's clinical practice and be timely and topical.

The Author
For more information on this survey, contact Carwyn Jones, head of pharma, E-mail:
To comment on this article email


Related links

Previous Dr Monitor reports:

June 2009: Oncologists' opinions
Feb  2009: Psychiatrists probed

9th September 2009


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