On the Agenda - Patients shun GPs in favour of web

In a nutshell People are increasingly going online for medical diagnosis rather than seeing their GP, according to a new report. One in seven patients now use the internet to gather information about an illness before seeing their GP.

Internet: patients turning to online
Internet: patients turning to online

What is expected to happen?

The report, by The Future Foundation, predicts the trend will increase, with the number set to double in the next ten years. People's interest in online prescriptions is also likely to increase.

Why is this an issue?

Self-diagnosis could be dangerous because serious conditions could be missed. Patients might not be able to distinguish between reputable experts and authors that are not qualified.

What else has happened?

High street chain Lloydspharmacy has launched a 'virtual' GP surgery where patients can 'walk in' and consult an online doctor service. They then leave with their medication dispensed via private prescription.

PR strategy

Lloydspharmacy's retained agency Citigate Dewe Rogerson sent out the release to the national media to coincide with the launch of its online doctor service. The agency commissioned the research with The Future Foundation to give the story a broader social context.

Media coverage

The story was picked up by the Daily Mail, which ran with the headline: 'Dr Google!', while the Daily Express used the headline: 'Patients use web to avoid GP wait'. The story also appeared on Five News.

Stats

48% of people are 'interested' in online diagnosis

56% of people are 'interested' in online prescriptions

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