Internet users in Chile are leveraging digital media to search for healthcare information. In a January 2014 study conducted by TrenDigital—an Interactive Advertising Bureau Chile and Facultad de Comunicaciones UC, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile think tank—more than nine out of 10 internet users in the country had searched for healthcare information at least once. Two-thirds of respondents said they did so at least monthly.
Search engines were used to find healthcare information by 91.6% of internet users polled. Specialized healthcare websites came in second, with 89.6% of respondents mentioning them. Impressively—and perhaps worryingly—social networks were cited by 36.7%.
Though online healthcare searches may have taken off in Chile already, consumers in the country appeared to be much less interested in mobile apps that track their health and fitness. Despite the large portion of smartphone users in the TrenDigital study (85.4% of respondents) compared with the country’s smartphone penetration—39% of Chile’s population in spring 2013, according to Pew Research Center Global Attitudes Project—only 24.0% of respondents said they used apps for healthcare purposes.
Among smartphone users, training and fitness apps were the most commonly downloaded (33.1%) within the healthcare category, followed by 24.6% of respondents who had weight control apps.
Despite the relatively low adoption rates in the mobile healthcare category, internet users and their doctors in Chile appeared to be generally keen to embrace digital media as a facilitator for health and fitness. Nearly half of respondents said they would be willing to pay for doctor appointments via videoconference. And fully 32.9% of internet users reported neutral or positive reactions from their doctors when they revealed to have searched for healthcare information online, compared with 16.6% who recalled negative reactions.
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