UK: Is this the end of traditional doctors? A third of over 65s use technology to manage their health

Is this the end of traditional doctors? A third of over 65s use technology to manage their health

As Brits continue to avoid a visit to their GP, new research reveals a third of over 65s are using technology to keep tabs on their health and wellbeing
           
By Saffron Alexander 7:00AM BST 21 Oct 2015

We're living in the age of digital health according to new research.

In 2014, a study revealed that 65 per cent of people actively avoid going to their GP, with a further two thirds admitting they preferred to research health information online. Now new research has revealed more than half of all Brits use gadgets or technology to manage their health and wellbeing.

Research from Push Doctor, published in the UK Digital Health Report, found that checking medical symptoms, monitoring exercise levels, establishing individual BMI scores, monitoring heart rates and checking blood pressure are the top five most common ways we are now using technology to understand and manage our wellbeing.

Half of all adults now use a gadget or some form of technology to manage their health, with a third of over 65s doing the same.

People are even forgoing a trip to the opticians, now preferring to test their vision with apps. Dispensing optician for Essilor, Andy Hepworth, says while apps can be useful, they should not be a replacement for your regular check-up: "They're a smart way of flagging up when you need to get scheduled.

"Vision loss could be linked to other health conditions, so you should never delay booking in with your optician if you've noticed a significant change in your sight."

The research found that people would firstly Google their symptoms and then ask their partner for advice before visiting their GP, while men were more likely than women to book an appointment if they felt ill.

Last year, the number of health searches in the UK increased by 19 per cent up to an average of 848,820 searches a month.

71 per cent said they felt "positive about using technology this way to better understand their bodies" and believe it helps them to be more aware and in control of their health.

Eren Ozagir, CEO and founder of Push Doctor, said: “We use technology to manage nearly every aspect of our lives - from socialising, to organising our finances and heating of our homes. The adoption of health-tech by the general population remains a natural next step; with more and more people discovering how their health information can be used to guide and control and enhance their everyday lives.

“Sports and fitness trackers, gave way to more advanced health-tech monitoring and interpretation tools, and now we have really applicable digital health tools like blood pressure and glucose applications. Combined usage can provide a view of individual their past and current health state, which can be used by you or your doctor to inform what you do next; what you do day to day to improve your general wellbeing or tackle a range of conditions working with a clinician to interpret and use this data to take action to ultimately improve your short, medium and long term health conditions.”

Medical professionals have begun to take advantage of the rising popularity in tracking your health with technology and are beginning to offer online healthcare services.

5.1 per cent of people said they would even share their symptoms on social media in order to get opinions from their followers. A further 6.3 per cent said they had shared data with their doctor online so they could review it remotely, and almost 10 per cent said they had either participated in an online chat or video consultation with their doctor.

Dr Helen Webberley, who consults patients online through My Web Doctor, says although we can never replace the physical GP, online healthcare could soon be the status quo: "Online healthcare is just about to boom, and people are beginning to trust and use it much more.

"It is surprising these days what can be dealt with remotely. Advice is easy by email or telephone; mobile phone photos are easy to upload for looking at spots and rashes; and more detailed looks at the body can be achieved via real-time video conferencing.
Prescriptions can be arranged and sent out in the post to home and work.

"Obviously we can never replace the physical GP, but online healthcare services can still advise on whether you need to see your GP, and within what time-frame, so the next time the receptionist asks if it is urgent for today, you will know whether it is or not. The convenience of being able to access a good doctor from your laptop or mobile phone, at any time of day, and to be able to receive your medication through the post, has got to be the way forward."



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