Medical website Doctors.net.uk has announced a record year, with 25m unique web visits in 2009.
The website, which offers a forum for doctors plus an email service and interactive learning modules, said it registered two surges in activity during the year in its discussion fora.
These coincided with the outbreak of swine flu in April 2009, and the period when bad weather left doctors and patients snow-bound in February 2009.
The site said it also saw a change in doctors’ online behaviour with greater use of multimedia content.
This included a near five-fold increase in doctors accessing medical conference highlights and one in eight doctors accessing podcast interviews during the final quarter of 2009.
Dr Tim Ringrose, medical director at Doctors.net.uk, said the change in doctors’ online behaviour could be attributed to an increased confidence and familiarity with professional online resources.
He added: “Whether doctors’ needs are to gather information, receive time-critical updates or to share advice and opinion with their colleagues, there is clearly real demand for trustworthy online resources.”
Doctors.net.uk said it also experience growth in doctors’ usage of its email and news functions with email page impressions doubling between 2007 and 3007 and 90% of members using the email facility during December 2009.
The forum was also used an average of 207 times per member in 2009 and 56,088 doctors took part in online continuing medication education activities.
The website said there was an increased realisation by public sector bodies and the healthcare industry that online methods and channels were an ideal way to reach busy medical professionals.
Dr Ringrose added: “The leap is usage of learning modules, conference highlights and podcasts is illustrative of opportunities that can be harnessed by the sector.
"As trust grows more and more doctors are turning to such services for relevant updates or to gain insights from thought leaders – an opportunity that, due to time constraints, would otherwise pass them by.”
Doctors.net.uk said the vast majority of UK doctors are members of the site and each week more than 50,000 doctors use the service.