Weekend reading: new study finds lack of GP and healthcare access driving 55% of UK patients to online/apps, desire for prescribed apps

A new 26-page study from Swiss ‘innovation service provider’ Zühlke found that 55% of UK adults in the past six months have self-diagnosed their health problems online or with an app, versus seeing a medical professional. Driving it is lack of access, reported by 43% of UK adults in Zühlke’s 1,000-person May sample.

App and online use for self-diagnosis peaks among those 30-39 (72% strongly/somewhat agree), with 67% 18-29 and 65% 40-49, dropping off sharply in the two oldest age groups. The fairly consistent positivity of the 30-39 age group versus the 18-29 group is surprising to this Editor.

According to the study, UK adults are also reaching out to the NHS to vet apps in higher numbers. 49% strongly agree/agree, with the remainder rather lukewarm. in four descending neutral to strongly disagree categories. But by age, those who feel comfortable with healthcare providers prescribing apps range from 41% in the 60+ cohort to 58% in the 30-39% group. The increased acceptability apparently has been driven by the Covid-19 experience with remote health.

55% also feel comfortable with a prescribed app to monitor mental health, with the same strength (69%) in the 30-39 group.

The study also covers price tolerances for paid health apps, with 25% in the 30-39 group willing to pay over £20 monthly for an app, and preferred types of conditions to be managed with an app. The NHS is far and away the #1 preferred provider for prescribed health apps. Full study (link to PDF), press release

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  1. The real reason behind this is the longer wait to see a physical GP.

    It would be interesting to see the data around which apps are being accessed and if they are properly regulated to the relevant regulatory standards.