Over half of young adults (18-24 year olds) in Europe take comfort in hearing about people’s health experiences that are similar to theirs while less than a quarter of the same age-group trust online health websites and even less (17%) believe they will receive quality and dependable information from online search engines such as Google.

While nearly three-quarters of information-hungry Millennials search more than once a month for health information online, new data suggests that young adults are struggling to find the information they need about their health, and are turning to forum-style websites, which may contain inaccurate health advice. The habits of young adults looking for health information online have been revealed as part of new research involving 5,000 participants across France, Poland, Germany, Russia and the UK, which has been released today by Teva Pharmaceuticals Europe.

Teva published these findings to coincide with the start of the flagship UK healthcare conference – NHS England’s Health Care Innovation Expo 2016, being held in Manchester on September 7 8. Teva is serving as NHS England’s ‘Digital Zone’ partner at this year’s Expo, with the aim of sharing experiences, examining best practices, and understanding drivers and barriers to adopting digital technologies in healthcare that have the potential to improve patients’ healthcare experience and boost healthcare outcomes. Teva commissioned the study to gain deep insights into how people in Europe interact with digital technology in their day-to-day lives and in managing their personal health well-being.

Tim White, Head of Digital Experience at Teva Pharmaceuticals Europe, and speaker on a joint NHS-Teva conference panel discussing digital technologies, patient empowerment and healthcare outcomes, said:

Across Europe, our research shows a generation of young people fully engaged in digital technologies to improve or maintain good health, but they’re not turning to peer-reviewed, professionally recognized healthcare resources available online. Digital technology is creating the ‘connected patient’ who’s having a greater say in managing his or her own care. So it’s our responsibility to work together with European healthcare providers to build confidence, foster healthcare literacy and ensure that information and health technologies accessed by people of all ages is reliable and trusted.

Teva believes a key to better health outcomes is patient-empowerment, backed by digital technologies that can lead to a more integrated, efficient and patient-centered approach to healthcare. Tim White, at Teva continued:

If we are to empower people across Europe to feel more in control of their health, we need foster greater healthcare literacy, and provide them with the right information and tools that they trust. Unfortunately, the extent to which Europeans feel in control of their health today varies widely, with our research showing over two thirds of Germans describe themselves as having high control over their health, while less than half were as confident in France and Russia. That isn’t good enough when the health technologies available today have the power to support people to better understand their health than ever before.

On day two of the conference, Teva along with NHS England, will co-host a panel discussion to explore how to digitally empower patients and clinicians to drive improved health outcomes. In commenting on the survey findings, Juliet Bauer, the newly appointed Director of Digital Experience at NHS England, who will participate in the panel discussion, said “Simplicity for the patient is critical. The adoption of digital technology presents us with a very real opportunity to guide people to the right place, support them to make the right decisions and transform that consumer experience. In everyday life we rely on high quality digital journeys to access services and information we need. In health and care we have some serious catching up to do. I know the task is significant but the commitment is clear. The investment in paperless 2020, the strong partnerships across health and care organisations, the department of health and industry, all combined with technology that is evolving…. these are exciting times.” Wayne Middleton, Non-Executive Director of the Patient Information Forum, and another panel participant added, “For people to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing choices, they need access to high-quality, clearly communicated, and evidence-based healthcare information. But healthcare information needs to be understandable and accessible for patients and the general public, otherwise it won’t resonate with them. That’s why patients and laypeople have a key part to play in any healthcare literacy programmes and campaigns – even more so as digital technologies put patients more in the driving seat in managing their own health and well-being.”