Health content is a big deal for both individuals and organizations. Consumers seek health content more now than ever, whether to learn more about a virus outbreak, better understand a diagnosis, research new insights about mental health, or explore how to live better, longer. At the same time, every type of company and organization related to health needs content to function, whether to remind patients of appointments, assist or guide employees, take innovative drugs and products to market faster, or recruit participants for research. Let’s take a closer look at recent facts about the current state and future of health content.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to End-to-End Content

User Behavior and Expectations Surrounding Health Content

Most Americans go online for health information. According to the 2022 National Health Interview Survey, 58.5% of U.S. adults used the Internet to look for health or medical information in the past 12 months. — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

chart of americans' use of the Internet for health information
The National Health Interview Survey found 58.5% of American adults have searched for health information online in the past 12 months.

Consumers want digital healthcare choices. About 70% of consumers say they will likely use digital health solutions in the future. CTA Driving Consumer Adoption of Health Resources

Many consumers track health digitally. 40% of US adults report using health applications and 35% report using some sort of health wearable. — Morning Consult

Diet and nutrition most popular for online health information seekers. Among survey participants who searched for health information online, the top 4 search topics were diet/nutrition, exercises, medicines, and quick remedies. — Electronic Health Behaviors Among U.S. Adults With Chronic Disease: Cross-Sectional Survey 

Americans often search for information on minor ailments. In 2023, Google users in the United States wanted to know more about strep throat, how to lower cholesterol, and what helps with bloating. — CNN

Tailoring messages to align with cultural preferences and sensitivities enhances the likelihood of positive reception and engagement. Plain language, transcreation, and cultural nuances are integral components of this process, ensuring that health information is accessible, relatable, and impactful for all individuals. As we strive for health equity, let us recognize the power of words to bridge gaps and build a healthier society. — Juviza Rodriguez, Sr Director, March of Dimes

Americans rely on WebMD. In December 2023 received 129.03 million visits with the average session lasting nearly 9 minutes. Compared to November, traffic to has increased by 9.35%. — SEMRush

Americans are searching online for mental health help. Between April 2022 and March 2023, Americans search for mental health resources on average 200,000 times a month. This was more than double the number of searches of the next country, the Philippines, which searched for mental health resources more than 82,000 times a month. — Statista

Related: 5 Signs Your Customer Experience Problem Is Really a Content Problem

State of Health Content and Current Challenges

Fake health news has infiltrated social media. Analysis of known bot datasets found up to 66% of bots discussing COVID-19, indicating their heavy involvement in spreading pandemic (mis)information. Strategies used by bots to spread misinformation include amplification, phishing links, discrediting legitimate sources, and promoting unproven treatments. — Journal of Medical Internet Research

Misinformation is a trending concern for content creators. Nearly 30% of content creators said that combating misinformation is a top priority for their operation. — What Makes Content Operations Successful? 2023 Full Report

Confidence in identifying AI generated content varies. 54% of consumers claim to know when they are reading content written by AI, 26% claim to not know, and 20% say they are unsure. — Forbes Advisor

False beliefs about health information are prevalent. 78% of Americans believe at least one false statement about COVID-19. — State of Content 2023 Webinar Recording

Related: Misinformation + Disinformation Roundup: AI-Driven Misinformation + Using AI to Fight Back

Increase in searches for health information and confidence in health knowledge: Since before the pandemic, people are now 3.4 times more likely to be educating themselves on health issues. 44% of respondents ages 18-34 believe that, with research, the average person can know as much as a doctor. — 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer

In some organizations, content might be really core to their mission or what they need to do. In some cases, it might be more removed. A key step is figuring out what is the role of content in your business and the right level of time and resource investment that should be spent. So I think one struggle is figuring out the right level, which is where people can get stuck spinning their wheels. And then of course, the workflow involved in content can be really challenging. — Lymari Morales, Director, Bloomberg School of Public Health

51% of social media posts associated with vaccines contained health misinformation. Health misinformation was also found in posts about COVID-19 (28.8%) and in posts related to the pandemic (60%). 20% to 30% of YouTube videos about emerging infectious diseases contained health misinformation. — World Health Organization

Providers have mixed rates of adoption for digital services. 67% of physicians have adopted video visits. 30% have adopted texting or virtually chatting with patients. Only 4% have integrated data from patient wearables into patient medical records. — 2023 Global Health Care Outlook, Deloitte

An estimated 70% of U.S. health care organizations use social media, with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube being the most popular. Blogs are also used by many medical centers and hospitals. — Social Media and Health Care Professionals: Benefits, Risks, and Best Practices, National Institutes of Health

Moving the Needle on Health Content Effectiveness

While healthcare organizations and health news outlets alike continue to face health content challenges, there are many opportunities for them to do better—from taking full advantage of what digital has to offer to trying new techniques and strategies to reach key audiences.

By stepping out of our comfort zone and taking risks, we were able to achieve content goals we never before thought possible. We now know that we can publish evidence-based content in weeks rather than months. This led to a significant increase in sponsorships (a company pays to have its logo appear on content pages without having any editorial control over the content). We also saw increased interest from media outlets, with some linking back to our pages. – Paula Ludmann, American Academy of Dermatology

Healthcare ad spending is on the rise. In 2022, healthcare ad spending increased 11.5%. In 2023, spending increased 10.1%. — eMarketer

Personalization pays off for healthcare providers. When providers offer a personalized experience, 49% of patients feel like they care about earning their business and 47% are more likely to choose them as a provider. — Invoca

Because we experienced success in implementing a content strategy, internal stakeholders now include us in discussions about content during the planning process. Lance Yoder, Oracle Cerner

Related: Content Personalization Fact Sheet

Future of Health Content

The Internet of Things, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and other advancing technologies all point to a healthier, more transparent, and more valuable future for health content.

Related: Artificial Intelligence + Content: Understanding the Potential + the Pitfalls

AI is being used to translate health content in videos. YouTube Health is collaborating with select health content creators to pilot an AI-powered dubbing tool – Aloud, which has recently become a part of YouTube. Making videos in multiple languages is crucial for overcoming language barriers, especially in a healthcare context, yet can be labor intensive for creators. — YouTube

There’s a lot of opportunity for innovative technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to be a part of the equation. We do have to recognize both the benefits and risks. Leveraging the benefits of AI will be an important part of the solution. For example, there’s much potential for AI to accelerate the timely and efficient curation of evidence. — Christopher Jones, PhD, VP,  Content Science

Electronic health records can change healthcare. With new electronic health record (EHR) systems, public health officials will be better prepared to manage crises, like pandemics, and proactively care for underserved populations through real-time data. Meanwhile, researchers would have access to unparalleled data, helping them find and develop new cures or treatments more quickly. — Oracle Health

Secure messaging is a growing avenue for health information. The secure messaging data tracked from 2018 to 2022 demonstrated a rise in usage from 9,378 chats per month when it went live in August 2018 to greater than 200,000 monthly messages during the pandemic when social distancing measures were enacted. — Improving Communication in a Large Urban Academic Safety Net Hospital System: Implementation of Secure Messaging

Sharing information between providers is a key value of new technologies. “Having more information shared between entities with a totally streamlined communication process helps our teams better collaborate. Expanding the use of technology has empowered our teams to focus less on administrative process and more on what matters most: our patients.” — Will Maixner, DaVita

Content-led and AI-driven transformation of end-to-end processes and experiences is happening. When Pfizer launched innovation to streamline its content supply chain and accelerate bringing drugs to market, this wise comment stood out:

Content is at the heart of that transformation. Jane von Kirchbach, SVP Digital, Pfizer

Related: 5 Signs Your Digital Transformation Problem Is Really a Content Problem

And there’s much more potential to make health care and content more accessible through content-led and AI-driven experience. For example, take Kaiser Permanente, whose Chief Digital Officer Nari Gopala says, “More than 1 out of every 3 members who use our virtual care service use it after-hours for most clinics. And more than 92% of our members who have registered for have digitally accessed their medical records and lab results, scheduled appointments online, or virtually contacted their care team in the past year.”

The Author

Content Science partners with the world’s leading organizations to close the content gap in digital business. We bring together the complete capabilities you need to transform or scale your content approach. Through proprietary data, smart strategy, expert consulting, creative production, and one-of-a-kind products like ContentWRX and Content Science Academy, we turn insight into impact. Don’t simply compete on content. Win.

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