An increasing number of Kiwis (55%) are now using the internet to research their medical woes and 22% claim to be doing so once or more each week.
TNS research carried out for the Southern Cross Healthcare Group, showed that of the 55% undertaking research, 21% used it to identify the issue themselves and 4% didn’t go to the doctor as a result.
Ian McPherson, Southern Cross Healthcare Group CEO and former GP, says that given the wealth of information available online it’s no surprise people are using the internet to research conditions.
“Though online information should never replace a consultation with a qualified health professional, good quality information can provide a huge measure of reassurance, it can also give people a greater understanding of medical conditions that may be affecting them or their loved ones,” he says.
Southern Cross’ own online medical library has also experienced phenomenal growth, with visits increasing by 106% in the last year.
Attracting over 1.3 million site visits in 2013, the most popular pages were glandular fever, pneumonia, diabetes, menopause and gout.
The plain-English medical library offers information on a broad range of medical conditions and procedures, including prevention tips and health promotion ideas. The 17 categories include Children's, Men's and Women's health through to blood, brain, heart, lung, joint, skin and autoimmune conditions.
McPherson says Southern Cross provides the free online resource because it fits in with the not-for-profit organisation’s philosophy of looking after the health of all New Zealanders.
“People know they’re in safe hands with Southern Cross. Health is where our credentials lie,” he says.
“From the hits received on our website, Kiwis obviously trust us to provide high-quality, understandable general health information.”
The national TNS survey showed the most likely to search for health information online were those living in Wellington and Tauranga, females and those under 50 years.