Direct Access, Natural Search Lead to Online Physician Visits

comscore-core-reason-for-physician-visits-feb11.gifAcross all health-related categories, the majority of US physicians’ visits to online sources of health information in Q3 2010 were driven primarily by direct, non-referred access and natural search, according to new comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavioral Measurement Solution data. comScore advises this underscores the importance of building brand awareness and effective SEO strategies in order to reach physicians online.

Different Online Sources Drive Traffic to Different Categories

Analysis from the comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavioral Measurement Solution revealed that sources of physician traffic varied across site content categories. For example, non-referred visits (which include traffic originating from bookmarks or directly accessing the site via URL address) accounted for the majority of physicians’ traffic across many site categories including pharmacy services (73%), pharma support (67%) and clinic sites (59%). Media, text and link referred traffic (such as banner or text ads) accounted for the largest share of physician traffic to health & wellness sites at 40%.Meanwhile, paid search referred visits represented a relatively small percentage of physicians’ overall traffic to health-related sites. Of all health-related sub-categories, pharmaceutical sites saw the largest percentage of visits originating from paid search at just 7%.

And more than half of physicians that visited physician locator and general health content sites arrived through natural (organic) search results, while network referred visits (traffic referred by ad networks involving push or interference) accounted for 15% of physicians’ traffic to social media sites and 10% of health-related insurance sites.

Natural Search Continues to Drive Majority of Search-Referred Physician Visits

comscore-paid-search-natural-search-physician-visits-feb11.gifDeeper comScore analysis of the role of paid and natural search in physicians’ online behaviors revealed that, among all health-related content categories, natural search accounted for the large majority of search-referred visits. Natural search was the source of 100% of search-referred visits to sites in the government, medical journal, pharmaceutical support and social media categories.

Pharmaceutical sites had the highest share of paid search referrals among physicians with 20% of search-referred traffic originating from this source, which comScore says indicates the continued competition among pharmaceutical brands in this space. Health & wellness sites also sourced significant traffic from paid search referrals with 12% of search-referred traffic arriving through this method.

Pew: 8 in 10 Web Users Look for Online Health Data

Eight in 10 US internet users look online for health information, making it the third most popular online pursuit among all those tracked by the Pew Internet Project, following email (94%) and using a search engine (87%), according to a recent study from the Pew Internet Project. Since one-quarter of adults do not go online, the percentage of online health information seekers is 59% among the total US adult population.

About the Data: The comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavior Measurement Solution contains a panel of 1,000 physicians which have opted-in to have their Internet activity measured to identify trends in their online behavior. No HIPAA or personally identifiable information is collected and all results are aggregated in the final analysis.