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Internet adoption

The figures reproduced in this chart have been reproduced with the kind permission of Synovate Healthcare, P\S\L Research and the EphMRA Foundation.

Double-click on the slide to see it in full size.

At the tail-end of 1995, I remember reading an article by Peter Llewlyn, in Pharmaceutical Times, where he asked if anyone had information on the proportion of GPs using the Internet. Since I was running the Isis Research International Medical Omnibus at the time, I decided to include a couple of questions on our next GP Omnibus, which were:

Q1 – Do you ever personally use the internet? I am talking about any internet service including e-mail and the World Wide Web?

If they did not:

Q2 – How likely do you think you are to use the internet with the next 12 months?

As you can see from the chart, the levels in 1996 were very low, and did not change much by 1997 – although in the second wave I did include the US which showed that almost half of US PCPs (46%) were then using the Internet at that time. By 1998, European adoption was starting to move considerably, although we could start to see interesting differences by market. In the UK and Spain we saw quicker take-up of the Internet than in the other markets, and in France, Germany and Italy we could start to see that some of the older doctors were very resistant to adopting the Internet.

The results for 1996, 1997 and 1998 were reported on within Pharmaceutical Times. I also made a presentation of this data at a March 1998 conference on “Marketing Pharmaceuticals over the Internet”, held in Amsterdam and organized by Vision in Business.

In 2000, we could see that the majority of GPs in all countries were using the Internet – but there were an interesting nominal drop in Internet usage from 2000 to 2001 in the UK data (from 82% to 76%). Whilst this is not a statistically significant difference, it still looked odd. Further investigation showed that the UK phone sample collected for the 2001 survey was heavily skewed towards older physicians – a group less likely to use the Internet. My general conclusion/hypothesis was that, at this point of the adoption curve of the Internet, younger physicians were increasingly preferring to complete surveys via the Internet and less willing to complete surveys by phone – and hence the phone survey under-represented the overall adoption of the Internet by GPs.

Amongst the general population world-wide, as of December 31, 2011, 32.7% are Internet users.