boomer and doctorThe new numbers make it official: “As of April 2012, 53 percent of American adults age 65 and older use the internet or email,” according to Pew Internet & American Life Project. “Overall, 82 percent of all American adults ages 18 and older say they use the internet or email, at least occasionally, and 67 percent do so on a typical day.”

We have a fond regard for the nonprofit Pew Research Center “fact tank” that regularly issues insightful data about the “issues, attitudes and trends shaping American and the world.” (It’s also free.) But this particular data point doesn’t surprise us.

It’s been our experience that the Baby Boomer crowd is not only a significant healthcare marketing audience because of its size, but that they are no strangers to the Internet. We’re grateful for the validation and the quantification.

Surprise or not, the new data is a useful marketing and advertising tool for medical practices, hospitals, providers and others…especially when you look closely at the breakout data. For one thing, the numbers are growing.

To illustrate this up-tick, “As of February 2012, one third (34 percent) of internet users age 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18 percent do so on a typical day. By comparison, email use continues to be the bedrock of online communications for seniors. As of August 2011, 86 percent of internet users age 65 and older use email, with 48 percent doing so on a typical day.”

Data from Pew previously confirmed that health information is a popular pursuit, with most of the various boomer groups—Younger Boomers (47-56), Older Boomers (57-65), and Silent Generation (66-74)—being well represented. [Chart]

And among all Internet users, Pew provides a list of the percentage of those individuals who have looked online for information about:

  • 66 percent – specific disease or medical problem
  • 56 percent – doctors or other health professionals
  • 36 percent – hospitals or other medical facilities

[Further breakout available in the complete Pew Chart here.]

For healthcare, hospital and medical practice marketing and advertising planners, the bottom line is that a whopping 80 percent of Internet users look online for healthcare and provider information. What’s more, the boomer groups—frequent health services consumers—are highly significant and growing categories among info-thirsty Internet users.

Further insight and the full June 2012 Pew Internet report, Older Adults and Internet Use, is available online here. In related reading, our previous post about the “Silver Tsunami” is here.

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Stewart Gandolf

Stewart Gandolf

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Healthcare Success Strategies
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is CEO of Healthcare Success, a medical marketing and health care advertising agency. He is also a frequent writer and speaker. Most importantly, he is happily married and a "rock-n-roll daddy" to two wonderful girls.
Stewart Gandolf
Stewart Gandolf


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