Google estimate that they receive 166 billion searches every month with 1 in 20 of those searches being health-related.1, 2 That’s a staggering 8.3 billion health-related searches every month!
So just how reliable is Dr. Google?
Dr Guido Zuccon (a real doctor), of The Queensland University of Technology, carried out a study in 2015 that found that self-diagnosing via the internet was only useful 30% of the time.3 Meaning that the majority of the time when we self-diagnose, we are dealing with inaccurate or irrelevant information. Dr. Zuccon argues that doing so could result in incorrect diagnosis, unnecessary treatment and even possible harm to our health. He cautions against what he terms ‘cyberchondria’. Yet, a recent study found that over 50% of us have self-diagnosed in exactly this way.4
Why do we self-diagnose?
Time – A lot of us lead busy lifestyles; balancing the demands of work, with childcare and our social lives. Time is at a premium which is why it can be difficult to find the time in our busy schedules to book a doctor’s appointment let alone taking the time to actually go.
Waiting Lists – In addition to the above, it can take a long time to actually get an appointment to see your GP. Currently the average wait to be seen by a GP is thirteen days, but according to the Telegraph, waiting times are set to surge toward the three week mark.5 So, often many of us self-diagnose to avoid the long waiting lists of the doctor’s surgery.
Convenience – If we work, provide care for families or have otherwise busy lives, it can just be so much easier to grab a phone or laptop, and get instant answers (regardless of their relevance and accuracy!)
Health-at-Hand provides direct telephone access to medical professionals such as nurses, midwives, counsellors and pharmacists who are all experts in their field. They don’t diagnose or prescribe medication, but they do provide medical information and support, the latest information about medicines and illnesses, as well as reassurance and guidance. The line is open 24 hours a day, every day, so there’s always someone you can talk to.
So if you lead a busy lifestyle, you don’t need to leave your diagnosis to the algorithms under Google’s bonnet, but instead can get instant access to a qualified medical professional. No waiting lists, no trips to a GP surgery, just instant help, any day, any time!
We spoke to Lorna, a customer at Health-on-Line, to find out her experience of using Health-at-Hand, our 24 hour dedicated medical helpline.
“Recently, one evening, I found myself looking for reassurance over a fairly minor re-occurring problem. The local pharmacy, chemists and Doctors surgery all were closed until the morning. Impatiently, I debated contacting the NHS on the 111 helpline number – but hesitated as this was not particularly urgent."
"So, remembering my health insurance policy, I decided to dial the number for Health-at-Hand. Feeling slightly sceptical and assuming I would be speaking to someone with first aid training in a call centre, I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to speak to a Pharmacist and a Nurse who advised me of treatments available and also what I could do at home before I ran to the chemist in the morning."
"I was astounded by the helpfulness of the staff I spoke to and immediately felt the value of my health insurance. The Health-at-Hand number is now stored in my phone for future reference, as having access to trained professionals 24-7 is in my eyes, an invaluable tool.”
If you currently have a Health-on-Line policy and would like to contact Health-at-Hand, the number to dial is 0800 003 004. Please have your membership number to hand when you call.
If you don’t currently have a Health-on-Line policy, you can view our cover options or get a quote today. Health at Hand is offered to all policy holders and will therefore be included in your policy.