According to a report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, Wikipedia is the “single leading source of medical information for patients and healthcare professionals.”
According to the report:
“The top 100 English Wikipedia pages for healthcare topics were accessed, on average, 1.9 million times during the past year. Rarer diseases, which often have fewer available information sources and are less understood by patients and clinicians, show a higher frequency of visits than many more common diseases.”
The medical technology company relies on data from more than 100,000 suppliers and 45 billion healthcare transactions each year.
“In an assessment of 50 major disease-specific Wikipedia articles, the Institute found a strong correlation between page views and medicine use, with online information-gathering occurring throughout the patient journey. Content incorporated or updated on healthcare-related Wikipedia pages is subject to constant change, often overseen by informal or formal working groups. An assessment of Wikipedia disease articles indicates that at least half of the changes made are related to patient-relevant information.”
Wikipedia was launched in 2001 and has more than 30 million articles in more than 250 languages that can be altered free of charge by anyone who can get on the Internet.
In addition to the report’s findings about Wikipedia, IMS also found that about half of the top 50 pharmaceutical manufacturers are using social media to engage patients about healthcare-related issues.
“Increasingly, patients are turning to social media as an essential forum for obtaining and sharing information related to their health,” said IMS executive director Murray Aitken. “This trend only heightens the need for relevant, accurate content that can be accessed and used throughout the patient journey. Healthcare professionals, regulators and pharmaceutical manufacturers all need to overcome their reticence and acknowledge the vital role that they can and should play as participants in the healthcare conversation.”