Patients using health apps (and Google) are making GPs’ lives miserable

A new survey has found that patients are increasingly asking doctors for treatment they’ve seen recommended online or in an app, reports the BBC.

Research firm Cello Health Insight spoke to 300 UK GPs and found that a third of them have patients who come to appointments already knowing what they want to be prescribed, because a health app or website has already filled them in on what they have and how it could be treated. Were the doctors impressed with these people’s can-do attitude and willingness to participate in their own healthcare decisions? Not so much: only 5% of the GPs surveyed felt it was helpful.

They were however in favour of patients using health apps to monitor symptoms of long-term conditions or to make sure they’re taking medication every day. The doctors also found the internet useful for research themselves, with three quarters using it for finding detailed medical info and sharing knowledge with their colleagues.

It’s understandable that doctors don’t want patients who’ve never set foot inside medical school telling them what medication they need for a condition they’ve self-diagnosed. But as someone who was only diagnosed with a condition that needed prompt treatment because of Wikipedia, there’s no denying the internet can be useful. And while apps that help us to track our health certainly have the potential to turn us into hypochondriacs, they can also help us feel more connected to our bodies (and motivated to take care of them).

So perhaps the answer is a middle ground between (literally and metaphorically) swallowing whatever a doctor gives you no questions asked, and barging in demanding something you’ve seen online. At the very least, pretend you read about it in a book.

Image via Diabetes Care.

Want to read more? If you’re looking to buy a wearable or activity tracker, we’ve found the best wearables to keep you safe, but, if they’re too expensive, here are the best budget wearables and activity trackers for under £70.

If you’re not bothered by wearables at all, but still want help with keeping fit, check out our feature on 10 kitchen gadgets, tools and utensils for healthy living.

Diane Shipley

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