We're all different when it comes to our health

Posted on January 25, 2015 by Louise Silke

We¿re all different when it comes to our health | Blog You may have seen one of the many stories and articles about the NHS GP service, it's a hot topic right now and is linked to other big discussions about NHS primary and secondary care, an ageing population and, inevitably, the 2015 election. It's also a personal one, making us more likely to listen.

Supporting our customers, health and wellbeing is at the heart of what we do so it's important that we understand what may affect it. We in the Insight Research and Development team are responsible for monitoring health related matters in the UK and finding out how you, our customers, feel about them.

So what better subject to discuss with our online panel of customers than that of your GP service?  In November, over 1000 of you talked to us about it. It was honest and refreshing to hear directly from people experiencing the service.

It was immediately clear that your views cover a broad spectrum, split in part by age or whether you have partners and children. It's funny how we can know something but still need reminding of it from time to time. We all know people are different, it's obvious isn't it? And yet some of the insight you gave us was surprising.

58% of you would visit a Pharmacist as an alternative to your GP and 44% of you use the internet to get health advice. But, this doesn't replace the importance of your GP, which you still rate highly. Just under half of you say that a lack of personal relationship is the reason for low confidence in the service. This, in an increasingly digitised and sometimes impersonal world, is quite a poignant statement. When it comes to health it seems we don't want to let go of that personable approach, but that doesn't mean we aren't willing to do things differently.

In fact three quarters of you would use a telephone helpline to talk to your GP, over half would video call and just under half would web chat with a GP.

The older we get, the less likely we are to visit the GP about our mental health. This is especially worrying as diseases like dementia are invariably linked to ageing and event-triggered depression is also more common later in life. Perhaps talking on the phone or over the web could help ease the stigma of discussing mental health.

So what did we take from this? Well to start with, an even deeper understanding that we're all different when it comes to our health. We aren't stuck in our ways; we just cherish the right to feel personal about it. Our need for health support isn't confined to 9-5, it isn't two weeks from now and it isn't a one size fits all solution. It's ever-changing, all-important and, at a time when we can personalise screensavers and number plates, why shouldn't we be able to personalise our health?

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