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New Study on Physician Online Behaviors Shows Health Care Professional Sites Reach 4 out of 5 Physicians, While Electronic Medical Records Show Highest Engagement

More Than Half of Physicians Show Interest in Using Mobile Devices and Tablets at Work

RESTON, Va., Dec. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released new findings from a study based on data generated by the comScore/Symphony Health Care Professional (HCP) Measurement Solutions offering, which provides insight into the actual online behavior of physicians with regard to health-related categories, and the Physician Mobile Survey, a survey of physicians' attitudes toward mobile devices and tablets in the workplace. Based on a longitudinal study of a permission-based panel of 1,000 U.S. physicians, the study showed that HCP Content websites such as, which provide content or services catering specifically to physicians, reached the highest percentage of physicians (81 percent) in comparison to other types of health sites. However, Electronic Medical Records sites such as showed higher engagement as physicians have begun to use these sites to replace paper record-keeping. The study also revealed that although computers are still the most often used device to go online at work by physicians, more than half of physicians expressed interest in using mobile phones and tablets in the workplace.


"It has never been easier for physicians to access health information digitally in the workplace, which makes it important for health marketers to understand exactly how and when doctors are using online tools to do their work more efficiently," said John Mangano, vice president for comScore Health and Pharmaceutical Solutions. "With the health industry placing more emphasis on the potential of mobile platforms, marketers must also educate themselves on how physicians are currently integrating – or plan to integrate – smartphones and tablets into their digital work habits."

HCP Sites Reach Most Physicians, But Electronic Medical Records Show Highest Engagement
In Q1 2012, HCP Content sites reached the highest percentage of physicians at 81 percent and also showed the second-highest visitation frequency among different types of health sites. In contrast, Electronic Medical Records sites showed the lowest physician reach at only 4 percent, but exhibited the highest visitation frequency and most average time spent per physician for those now using electronic records to replace paper records. Physicians using tablets showed a greater propensity to access medical records on their tablets rather than mobile phones, suggesting that the reach of this category will likely only grow with further tablet adoption. Health Social Media sites (such as now reach half of physicians going online, showing the largest growth in visitation over the past year. The Health Social Media category also had the largest share of visits from high-prescribing physicians, a priority target for many HCP marketers.

Percent Reach of Health Categories Among Physicians 
Q1 2012
Source: comScore/Symphony HCP Measurement Solutions

Health Category

% Reach of Physicians Online

Average Visits per Physician

Average Minutes per Physician

HCP Content




General Health Content












Health Social Media




Pharma Support








Health & Wellness








Physician Locator




Medical Journal








Pharmacy Services




Electronic Medical Records




Pharmaceutical Online Ad Exposure Exhibits Strong Correlation with Prescription Activity
Another aspect of the study examined the correlation between prescribing activity and exposure to pharmaceutical advertising. An analysis of high-prescribing physicians' online behavior from Q1 2011 through Q1 2012 showed a strong correlation (R²=0.6557) between share of visits to Medscape properties among high-prescribing physicians and the number of pharmaceutical ad impressions to which they were exposed. While correlation does not necessarily imply causation, this strong positive association indicates the possibility of online ad exposure driving prescription activity.

Preference for Using Tablets Among Physicians Outpaces Actual Usage
A survey of more than 300 U.S. physicians owning mobile devices conducted in June 2012 showed, not surprisingly, that computers remained the most heavily-used electronic device in the workplace. More than three-quarters of physicians said they used their PCs on a daily basis to go online to access health content. As new platforms emerge, the results also showed that a significant 60 percent also reported using mobile phones on a daily basis, with 62 percent of these daily mobile users indicating they need their device to stay in contact with their job.

In addition, 44 percent reported using tablets every day. However, while mobile phones outpaced tablets in terms of actual use, a greater percentage of physicians reported a preference for using tablets in the workplace (64 percent vs. 55 percent). This disparity suggests the potential for further adoption of tablet usage among physicians in order to meet their stated preference. On tablets, the most heavily accessed pieces of content were medical news, drug information, and disease treatment options. Tablets also showed an advantage over mobile phones as a point of access for electronic medical records and health records.

Usage and Preference for Mobile Devices and Tablets
June 2012
Source: comScore Physicians Mobile Survey (n=315)

Mobile Phones


% of Physicians Using Specified Device Everyday



% of Physicians Who Would Prefer to Use Specified Device



Interestingly, specialists showed a slightly higher propensity to use smartphones and tablets in the workplace, compared to primary care physicians. Moreover, there was no statistically significant difference in device usage between Baby Boomers and Generation X, meaning that physician age is less of a barrier to technology adoption than it is in the general population.

"While mobile phones have already emerged as a means for doctors to look up medical information quickly and efficiently, tablet usage is ramping up quickly and shows significant promise to serve as a substitute for computers in handling more involved tasks like record-keeping," added Mangano.

To learn more about the comScore/Symphony HCP Measurement Solutions and the Physician Mobile Survey, please contact John Mangano at [email protected].

About comScore/Symphony HCP Measurement Solutions and the Physicians Mobile Survey
In partnership with Symphony Health Solutions, comScore continually measures the online behavior of physicians via a 1,000-person permission-based HIPAA-compliant physician panel to determine behavioral trends linked to prescription activity and size market opportunities. The Physicians Mobile Survey cited in this release was fielded June 1, 2012June 12, 2012 with a sample size of 315 physicians.  The results shed light on how often and for what purposes physicians use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets at work, in conjunction with desktop computers. The study also highlights differences in the types of medical content most likely to be accessed on each platform, as well as differences in how physicians of different specialties and demographic characteristics engage with mobile at work.

About comScore Health and Pharmaceutical Solutions
comScore Health and Pharmaceutical Solutions delivers in-depth information needed to understand the impact that brand, condition-specific, and health websites have on consumers' brand awareness, conversion, and patient compliance, in addition to insights into health care professionals' online usage. comScore products deliver actionable insights to help refine consumer profiles, evaluate and test creative campaign elements across traditional and digital media, identify key alliances, optimize interactive marketing initiatives, benchmark against the competition and accurately measure the ROI of web site and online marketing programs. For more information, please visit

About comScore
comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR) is a global leader in measuring the digital world and preferred source of digital business analytics. For more information, please visit

About Symphony Health Solutions
Symphony Health Solutions enables the growth of our clients and transformation of the healthcare ecosystem by providing best-in-class information, analytics and technology solutions with actionable insights for maximum impact. Comprised of AlphaDetail, ImpactRx, and Source Healthcare Analytics, the company connects and integrates a broad set of primary and secondary health research, analytics and consulting expertise to deliver high-value knowledge products that help our clients leverage the rich data available to transform their businesses.  For more information, visit:

SOURCE comScore, Inc.

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