More people using the internet for health enquiries

More and more people are now prepared to share personal health information online in order to achieve a diagnosis and help.

According to new research by Simplyhealth, the private health insurance provider, more than half of people say that they would rather look up their health issues on the internet than immediately seek help from a healthcare professional. Information to be noted by companies wanting to sell healthcare products using digital marketing channels.

A total of 55% of those surveyed said that they would be prepared to submit information about their symptoms online, whilst half of respondents said that they would be happy to give basic information about themselves, such as their age.

The survey showed that nearly a third of people (31%) in the UK use the internet to find out if their symptoms warrant a visit to their GP, with 59% using Google to find out what’s wrong. The results show that younger people are often more comfortable with communicating over the internet, and are more likely to disclose personal information. 79% of 18 to 24s say they would give information compared to 63% of over 65s. Just under a quarter of those surveyed said that they would give details about their medical history online.

The research follows another recent survey, also by Simplyhealth, in which people saw the internet as a viable alternative in their search for help with their health in the face of long waiting lists at NHS healthcare providers.

Raman Sankaran, a spokesperson for Simplyhealth, said: “The internet, social media and instant messaging feature strongly in the results of our survey.

“All of this suggests that there is a shift in the way people want to access health advice and interact with healthcare professionals now.” This will have useful implications for the marketing of healthcare products to consumers.

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