- COVID-19 has ignited a new-found respect for the NHS, with 2 in 5 young people planning to be more conscious of their impact on the health service post-lockdown.
- Over a quarter of students (27%) have treated minor illnesses themselves during lockdown.
- Former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and Your.MD's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Maureen Baker, has backed the use of self-care apps to "empower people to better manage their health and to improve their overall care."
LONDON, June 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- 2 in 5 young people aged 18 to 24 (39%) say they will use NHS services more carefully post-lockdown, with many already using health websites and apps to help relieve pressure on the health service.
The findings of a recent YouGov study, commissioned by self-care platform Your.MD, of over 2,000 adults found that young people aged 18 to 24 are most likely to be mindful of using NHS services for conditions they can treat themselves, with 2 in 5 planning to think again about their impact on the health service. A further 15% said they would visit their GP less often and self-manage their health in future, where possible, while nearly a quarter (24%) of those aged 25 to 34 also reported they would think twice before using the health service.
The pandemic has also sparked a self-care trend in full-time students, with more than a quarter (27%) saying they have already self-treated an illness during lockdown rather than visiting their GP.
Instead of accessing NHS services during the lockdown, more than 1 in 10 of those surveyed (12%) have instead turned to healthcare apps or websites for advice and support since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. Of those, 4 in 10 (41%) reported doing so in order to relieve pressure on the NHS. Almost a fifth of all respondents (17%) self-treated an illness they would usually contact a clinician for, such as headaches, an upset stomach, or splinters.
The findings echo fears across the NHS of a ticking time bomb of unmet need. Estimates suggest more than eight million people could be waiting for hospital care in England by autumn – double the number waiting in February 2020. GP appointments are currently down, with official figures showing a 33% decrease in appointments in April 2020 compared to 2019, with face-to-face appointments down by 60%. While GPs are keen that patients in need of treatment don't suffer in silence for fear of catching the virus on a visit to the doctor, there are many problems that will get better on their own without a trip to the GP's office.
Simple sprains, certain insect bites, uncomplicated back pain and dandruff are all conditions that people can manage at home or with the support of a pharmacist. While the NHS has been encouraging people to embrace self-care in a bid to help reduce strain on the health service since 2014, concerns that people may be 'storing up' health problems as a result of COVID-19 have meant that the need to effectively self-manage our health conditions is now more important than ever.
Former Royal College of General Practitioners chair and Your.MD's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Maureen Baker, said of the findings:
"Both the NHS and the country as a whole have rallied incredibly well to ensure our health service can cope with the demand of this virus.
"Thanks to the rapid increase in access to digital services, both doctors and patients can now access online tools that speed up healthcare management and make the system more effective. Self-care apps, such as Your.MD, can support individuals with advice for symptoms and empower them to better manage their health and to improve their overall care. Continuing to take better care of ourselves beyond the virus will improve our health and healthcare system in the long-term."
To support users in self-managing their health, the Your.MD app provides a health journal, where individuals can regularly track various aspects of their health, a text chat service, a health assessment tool, a 'daily drop-in' of healthcare tips and self-care advice, a OneStop Health™ Marketplace of trusted health service providers and products, and a Health A-Z of medical information developed by doctors. In April 2020, Your.MD launched a COVID-19 Symptom Mapper to track virus symptoms globally and to help individuals understand how their symptoms compare with others.
Denise Hampson, leading behavioural economist, said: "In the health sector, it was widely acknowledged that the first place people go to when they experience a new set of symptoms is 'Dr Google'. We've all done it, so we know the information is there, yet we used to prefer to seek the opinion of our GPs, and had more confidence in their advice than what we could discover on our own.
"This is now changing. The trend towards greater self-care hasn't just come from people accessing trusted sources of information - the real leap is that people are now gaining the confidence to use that information to take care of themselves.
"The NHS faces many tough challenges over the coming months, and we won't be going back to how things were. People will continue to gain confidence in online tools and apps for self-care, such as Your.MD, and they will start having more online consultations with clinicians and find new ways of monitoring and managing their long-term conditions. I believe that in a few years' time we'll look back and see this as a pivotal moment that changed how we approach our own health and our use of valuable NHS services."
Self-care is any action an individual takes to support their own physical or mental health. Around 1 in 5 GP appointments are for minor ailments, including headaches, heartburn or a blocked nose, which people can treat themselves. Minor conditions are responsible for 57 million GP visits and 3.7 million A&E admissions every year, costing the NHS over £2 billion.
About the YouGov survey commissioned by Your.MD
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,006 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th - 27th April 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
Your.MD is a self-care app and website that helps individuals look after their all-round health with trusted information, tools and support. Making it easy to assess or track symptoms while building personalised plans for improving fitness, nutrition, mental health and sleep.
The only self-care app classed as a Class 1 Medical Device, Your.MD aims to help a billion people globally find their health through informed self-care.
Your.MD has also launched a COVID-19 Symptom Mapper to help compare, understand and map the spread of COVID-19: https://covid19.your.md/