UK doctors concerned internet health data swelling ranks of ''worried well''

news
28 January 2015

Doctors are worried with the abundance of health data on the internet and smartphones a new army of ''worried well'' could have emerged according to a survey for the Astellas Innovation Debate.

Three hundred GPs were questioned for the Astellas Innovation Debate 2015, organised and funded by Astellas, which will bring together world-renowned experts to discuss the data revolution and its implications for our health later in the day, Thursday, 29 January.

According to over eight in ten (82 per cent), they had concerns that a mass of data and ''home readings'' would make people unnecessarily worried about their health, while 88 per cent agreed it would lead to an increase in the ''worried well'' wanting appointments.

According to seven out of 10 (76 per cent) GPs, they had noticed a marked increase in the number of patients ''self-diagnosing'' from the internet over the past twelve months. 

Two in 10 (21 per cent) said they had seen an increase in numbers of patients presenting at the surgery with data generated from health apps and smart devices. Another 15 per cent said they had seen an increase in numbers of patients coming to see them with results from privately paid-for genetic tests.

The results come after another YouGov survey of 2,000 people which found a third of UK citizens regularly ''self-diagnosed'' on the internet before booking an appointment with a GP, and 15 per cent owned a health app.

The survey of GPs was conducted ahead of the Astellas Innovation Debate at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on Thursday, which would consider how DNA and ''data revolutions'' were affecting healthcare.

Some 82 per cent of GPs said they had concerns that the ''mass of data and home readings'' are making people unnecessarily worried about their health, while 88 per cent agreed it would lead to an increase in ''worried well'' patients wanting appointments.

According to 15 per cent of GPs, they had seen an increase in the number of patients showing the results of privately paid-for genetic tests. Four in five GPs, they would struggle to trust its accuracy unless it was validated and from a reliable source.

Professor Lionel Tarassenko, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Academy of Medical Sciences, said digital health technology was rapidly changing the dynamic between patients and healthcare professionals.

He added with the rise of smartphones, more and more people were carrying devices in their pockets that could generate huge amounts of data about health in just seconds.





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