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Going digital to your Doctor

Published: 28 Sep 2015

Every day, you’re opening emails and browsing online. We’re surrounded by data and clients are receiving information from the web 24/7 in some cases. Some clients are using tablets and smartphones all the time to make life easier – and there always seems to be ‘an app for that’ – but the question is, are people ready to be ‘online patients’?

We’ve asked 250 of our customers about their views on talking to a GP remotely, what the challenges may be, and how they’d prefer to get medical advice overall.

Their responses show we could be seeing a trend towards being more receptive about faster responses and innovative approaches to healthcare – which should be good news for you.

  • Just under 60% of the people we spoke to saw online appointments (via Skype for example, or using an app on a mobile) as being beneficial, because these would fit more easily into their family and work commitments.

In fact, 62% of all customers we spoke to aged under 65 would be willing to have a GP appointment by phone or online.

The upsides to going digital
Some of the other reasons for considering an online experience with a GP included cost and convenience: 50% of our audience said an appointment from ‘the comfort of your own home’ was a benefit, as was ‘saving on transport costs’.

Cost and convenience are key words when it comes to promoting the benefits of private medical insurance and the access to innovation that some policies can offer. Appointments can be booked in seconds online using some of the technology available, and clients have access to doctors 12-hours a day, six days a week: they can also ask health-related questions via text.

Concerns going digital
Some of the objections we heard to online appointments were predictable (and perhaps practical) under the circumstances.

Comments like, “Sometimes it’s better face to face, it may be a personal issue you don't feel comfortable discussing over the phone or online,” or “I’m over seventy, I don’t like technology…” made this clear. However, it’s reassuring to note that while 10% of our audience saw technology as being a challenge for the elderly, very few people (4%) saw technology issues as being a problem.

Overall – what do these insights mean for you, the adviser?
The insights here reveal that people may respond quite positively when you position innovative products the right way. It’s important to present a balanced view, but statements like these in recommendations may help:

  • “With prompt, convenient access to private healthcare and tools like online GP services, you may find it easier to avoid taking unnecessary time off work.
  • “The advantages of this policy include not only diagnostic treatment in private hospitals, but also tools like video-call appointments and a GP helpline, which would mean less time spent in your GP’s waiting room.”

A sense of perspective is important. It’s inappropriate to encourage online interaction, if a face to face consultation is the only way of making an accurate diagnosis.

However, in terms of providing 24-hour reassurance when and where it’s possible, we believe more and more people will embrace the convenience and cost-effective benefits of ‘going digital to the Doctor’ as time goes on.


WC02075 09/2015

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