The National Business Group on Health reports a growing number of workers seek health and medical information from their employers.

In a survey conducted in October 2010, 75% of employees reported that they used their employers as a resource for medical and health information, a significant jump from 54% in 2007.

"We were surprised by that number. Employers, however, in the last five years have started seeing their role as supporting and enabling consumerism," said Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, during a press conference yesterday at the National Press Club.

As a result, "they have been providing more information and actively making that information available on their websites and intranets," explained Darling at the Washington, D.C. event.

Meanwhile, the percentage of workers who relied on their health plan for health and medical information increased from 67% in 2007 to 76% in 2010, according to the survey.

Employees have scaled back on accessing health information from the doctor’s office, magazine and newspaper articles and pharmacists.  For example in 2007, 72% of employees said they receive health information from their doctor’s office or clinic. In 2010, the number dropped to 61%.

Benefits professionals will be happy to hear that nearly 70% of workers rated their employers as completely, very, or moderately trustworthy source of heath information.

"We tell employers to make certain that when passing on health information to workers to cite trustworthy sources," said Darling. For instance, if an employer is sending out information dealing with children, it might be a good idea to cite the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The survey involved 1,538 employees at organizations with 2,000 or more workers. The survey participants were between the ages of 22 and 69 and receive their health care benefits through their employer or union.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Nearly 85% of respondents looked for health care information about symptoms before visiting a doctor while 71% of respondents said they brought a list of questions to ask their doctor during a visit. 
  • However, 41% indicated they were unsure how to discuss their concerns while 47% felt their doctors were rushed during the visit.
  • Almost four in ten employees (39%) support incentives for using proven treatments versus 16% who support penalties for using treatments that research has shown work less effectively.

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