Search Engines, Social Media, Web Chats, Video Streaming - is this the Future of Health Advice and Information?

By Simplyhealth, PRNE
Thursday, September 15, 2011

ANDOVER, England, September 16, 2011 -

Rather than book a GP appointment straight away, people are more likely to turn on their computer first according to the Simplyhealth report: Are we an instant health generation? In an age where technology has made access to health advice and information instant, people have far more choice than ever before and appear more willing to take responsibility for researching their issues independently.

The results, released today, show that nearly 50% of people admit that the way they access and seek advice and information about a health issue has changed over the last ten years. This could be due to the widespread use of the internet and mobile applications that have given way to this.

Raman Sankaran, spokesperson for healthcare provider Simplyhealth, comments: “Online healthcare resources fit in to our modern, busy, lifestyles, which is why 58% say they would rather turn to the internet than go and see a healthcare professional. In a world where time is a precious commodity, our survey demonstrates a growing trend to use the internet to not only seek health information and advice but to engage in online conversations about health. Over half of those surveyed state that they would be willing to give information about their symptoms online and 50% mentioned that they would give basic information such as their age and gender.

“It is interesting to see that social media and instant messaging features strongly in our results, with 56% of those willing to disclose information online saying they would be happy to take part in a web chat with a healthcare professional via instant messenger. All of this suggests that there is a shift in the way people want to access health advice and interact with healthcare professionals now, and this is only going to continue in the future.”

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.

Dr Pixie McKenna, better known as resident Doctor on Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, is working with Simplyhealth on the survey and comments: “Although instant access to online advice and information is incredibly useful, don’t forget that not all information online is legitimate and from reputable medical resources. My advice would be to refer to established websites such as NHS Choices (this is the best for diagnoses), NHS Direct and, which are both trusted and utilised by healthcare professionals themselves. If in doubt however, always consult a doctor.”

Recent media coverage[1] has suggested that the NHS is looking to utilise online resources by using services such as Skype to perform consultations. It has also been reported that certain practices[2] are setting up email consultation services. This could mean that online health resources are introduced to the NHS sooner rather than later.

Simplyhealth has been helping people access affordable healthcare for almost 140 years, through a variety of cash plans, dental plans, private medical insurance, and mobility and living aids. For more information or to read the report log onto or call 0800 072 6715.

To join in discussions about accessing health information and advice and to pose your health questions to Dr Pixie, please visit our facebook page or follow us on Twitter via Or follow the hashtag #instanthealth.  

Notes to Editor

  • The Simplyhealth report: Are we an instant health generation? Together with case studies and a spokesperson from Simplyhealth are available upon request
  • The research for the Simplyhealth report: Are we an instant health generation? was carried out online by YouGov between 26 July 2011 - 28 July 2011. It surveyed 5,097 UK adults aged over 18 and the results are weighted to the profile of the UK’s working population. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines

About Simplyhealth:

  • We became Simplyhealth in 2009 after bringing together HSA, BCWA, LHF, HealthSure and Totally Active, our family of health companies have joined together over the last nine years to form Simplyhealth
  • We’ve been providing healthcare solutions for nearly 140 years, dedicated to serving our customers through a variety of cash plans, dental plans, private medical insurance, healthcare trusts and mobility and living aids
  • Simplyhealth is a trading name of Simplyhealth Access, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority
  • As of December 2010, Simplyhealth had 1.2 million customers providing cover for some 2 million lives
  • Simplyhealth is committed to making a positive impact on its communities. Last year, we donated £1.6 million to health related charities and causes

For further information, please bother us at:

Lynsey Thorp, Public Relations Executive 0844-579-2266
Caroline Lakeman, Public Relations Manager 0844-579-2274/07795-294447



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