Study shows dramatic increase in older people turning to the Internet for health information

New research conducted by Lab Tests OnlineAU has shown a dramatic upswing in the age of people using the service.

In 2011, more than half of the general public visitors were under 40. In 2013, almost 80% are over 40 years old with 30% over 60 (see table below). Females made up 65% of users in 2013 compared with 70% in 2011.

age 2011 2013
18-29 years 27% 12%
30-39 years 27% 9%
40-49 years 25% 26%
50-59 years 16% 23%
60+ years 5% 30%

Lab Tests Online-AU chairman, Professor Leslie Burnett, said it was possible that older people were now more confident in exploring the internet and using it as a health resource and with a greater vulnerability to health issues were more likely to be seeking out reliable information on pathology. Younger people may also be migrating to smartphone mobile apps to access Lab Tests OnlineAU, rather than using the website.

In this latest research, more than 550 people were surveyed and findings were compared with those of the similar study two years earlier. The demographic breakdown of visitors had changed little in that time with 56% being members of the public looking for answers about a health matter; 36%, medical or health professionals seeking an instant reference for themselves or for their patients; and 8% full-time students wanting help with study.

The overwhelming majority of people placed a high level of trust in the information with medical and health professionals giving it a 9 out of 10 rating. About 95% of all people considered it extremely useful or useful. Information on Lab Tests OnlineAU has been written by some of Australia’s leading pathologists and scientists and reviewed by an editorial board so that people can be assured it is accurate and reliable.

Of the general public, the majority (64%) felt they understood their tests or diagnosis better and 49% felt more confident talking with their doctors. Medical and health professionals found it a useful source of information that saved them time and helped them feel better prepared.

Forty-six per cent of the medical and health professionals surveyed used the website regularly. However, many regular users have already migrated from the website to the highly successful Lab Tests OnlineAU mobile app.

Launched in November 2012, the app has been rated ‘must have’ by leading GP news magazine, Medical Observer that stated: “Lab Tests Online-AU is so useful, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it in the past”. It has also been listed in the top 20 free medical apps for iPhone by global analyst AppAnnie.

The website has a large following attracting up to about 68,000 visits a month. Developed by one of pathology’s peak bodies, the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists (AACB) with support from the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA), Lab Tests Online-AU is funded by grant from the Commonwealth Government.

“Knowing what your pathology tests do and why they have been requested by your doctor is an important advantage in understanding your health,” said Professor Burnett.

“Pathology tests play an essential role in modern healthcare and it’s been estimated that more than 70 per cent of the decisions surrounding diagnosis and treatment are based on results of these pathology tests. Pathology is everywhere, even in the most unexpected places. Every single cancer diagnosis requires pathology and tests are needed to identify infections, look for tell-tale signs of autoimmune disease, monitor the safety of medication levels, to ensure a newborn child is healthy and even guide the surgeon’s hand in a procedure."

“Yet for most people, what goes on behind the lab door remains a mystery. And this is why Lab Tests OnlineAU was developed. It’s our aim that by helping people understand the pathology of their condition they will be able to make better informed decisions about their health.”

Data collection and analysis provided by:
footprints Market Research 

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