BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
In March 2022 Webdoctor.ie, Ireland’s leading online GP service, compiled the National Health Watch Report in which they surveyed more than 1,600 people across Ireland. The report covered various areas of health, including physical health, diet and nutrition, smoking and alcohol consumption, and mental health.
According to the report six in 10 people (59%) consider themselves healthy while 23% feel that their physical health worsened during the pandemic. Overall, 89% of people plan to prioritise their health more in the next six months, with 30% expressing an interest in doing so by spending more time outdoors with just 10% saying they will do so by going to the gym.
The report also reveals key insights into the changing outlook around digital healthcare. It shows how we are now using ‘telehealth’ methods in conjunction with the traditional visit to the GP, thus providing an all-inclusive approach to caring for our health. 95% said they would be comfortable having an online consultation with a GP, with 60% even going as far as saying that they are more comfortable utilising online GP services.
When it comes to our sexual health. 77% of people prefer to use home-testing kits for sexual health checks, while less than one quarter (23%) of people prefer to attend a traditional clinic for the same tests.
Of women surveyed 10% say they would prefer an in-person GP consultation when seeking a prescription for the contraceptive pill or patch the others (90%) would prefer an online service.
Of the men surveyed 17% of men feel more comfortable with an in-person GP consultation and the majority (83%) would prefer an online doctor/prescription service when seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction.
A total of 42% of people are planning on improving their overall health through their diet and nutritional habits in the coming six months. A total of 89% state that meat is still a part of their diet, however, 45% would consider reducing their intake or becoming a pescatarian. Of those, a further 10% said they would consider moving to a completely plant-based diet.
Almost one quarter (24.4%) of people consume alcohol at least once a week with almost 20% of people saying they would drink alcohol 2-3 times a week. A total of 22% consume alcohol just once a month, with 15% saying they don’t consume alcohol at all. Nearly 40% said their alcohol intake decreased in the past 12 months, 24% say its increased while 38% said it has stayed the same. Up to 40% plan to reduce their alcohol intake over the next six months.
Interestedly of those who smoke only 10% of people surveyed say they smoke daily while 78% of people say they don’t smoke at all. 14% smoke occasionally and of the smokers surveyed three quarters plan to reduce their consumption or quit over the next six months.
The mental health of many has suffered due to the pandemic. However, only 22% sought help to address the issue. Again, the online option was to the fore with 87.5% of people stating they would be ‘fairly’ to ‘very’ comfortable receiving treatment for their mental health via an online consultation, if given the choice. And just 12% of people saying they wouldn’t be ‘very’ or ‘at all’ comfortable with online treatment for mental health.
David Crimmins, CEO of Webdoctor.ie, said: “It is great to see that so many people are planning to prioritise their health this year, all of which can be supported both virtually and traditionally. The pandemic has encouraged people to find new ways to manage their health, with many utilising telehealth services for the first time.”
Attitudes have changed toward telehealth in the past two years and with the use of various online methods of communication there is greater leaning toward digital health options as opposed to attending an in-clinic setting only.