Lifestyle

Elderly Irish are using technology to visit GPs online in the wake of the pandemic as virtual patients surge past 300,000

According to the CEO of digital medical service Webdoctor, THE OLDEST user of an online GP service in Ireland is almost 100 years old.

The website – used by over 300,000 people in Ireland – allows patients to visit general practitioners virtually.

A large percentage of people would rather see a family doctor online than in person for certain health conditions

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A large percentage of people would rather see a family doctor online than in person for certain health conditionsCredit: Alamy
According to web doctor David Crimmins, registrations for the online family doctor service have skyrocketed during the pandemic

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According to web doctor David Crimmins, registrations for the online family doctor service have skyrocketed during the pandemic

Registration for the site has skyrocketed since then pandemicby almost 40 percent in the last two years.

According to the site’s CEO, it’s not just teenagers who are signing up to use the service.

David Crimmins said: “The oldest user since Covid to have used our service is 98 years old. She is obviously very digitally savvy.

“She would now be approaching her centenary because it was 2020 when she first registered. It just shows that kids can access the service all the way up.

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“Sometimes people are really condescending and they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re over a certain age, you have no idea.’

“Some people have real problems with technology, of course, but also some people in their 20s. So there are more people of a certain age using this service than you might think.”

Statistics from Webdoctor’s new National Health Watch Report, for World Health Day, show that a large percentage of people would rather visit a GP online than in person for certain health issues such as finding a GP prescription for birth control pills or for erectile dysfunction.

The report also shows that one in four Irish people say their physical health has deteriorated during the pandemic.

And nearly 40 percent of people said their mental health has suffered since Covid-19 began.

Interestingly, 87.5 per cent of Irish patients said they would be comfortable with treatment Mental health in an online consultation.

The company’s CEO says these numbers are reflected in the massive increase in mental health consultations on Webdoctor during the year Pandemic due to lockdown.

He said: “We have seen an approximately seven-fold increase in the broad spectrum of mental health consultations from pre-Covid to during Covid. I think people just reflected what was happening in society as a whole.

“Lockdowns have been very tough for a lot of people, especially pre-vaccination, before we could see light at the end of the tunnel.

“There were times in 2020 when nobody really knew what the next few months would bring, so we absolutely saw a big spike in mental health consultations.”

Since launching in 2014, the company has processed millions of bookings from GPs, pharmacies and other healthcare facilities and has over 300,000 users.

“TAKING PRESSURE OFF THE HEALTH SYSTEM”

David says online healthcare systems like Webdoctor help Relieve traditional general practitioners and hospitals – but he said in-person appointments are essential for certain health conditions.

He said: “We don’t see ourselves as a replacement for GPs, there is a time and place for digital health and there’s a time and a place for brick-and-mortar GPs.

“Everyone is trying very, very hard to do our bit for the broader Irish healthcare system. But as it is under pressure before and during the Covid, anything that can be done to reduce waiting lists in the ER or elsewhere is welcome.”

HEALTH PRIORITY

Meanwhile, the new survey of over 1,600 patients showed that 89 percent of people said they plan to prioritize their health over the next six months.

A third of Irish patients plan to do this by spending more time outdoors.

Meanwhile, just 10 percent said they would improve their health by going to the gym.

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David added: “We realized there is so much more we can do now in the post-pandemic to take care of our overall health.

“It’s interesting to see that people want to spend more time outdoors instead of going to the gym and that we prioritize our mental health as much as our physical well-being.”

Since its inception in 2014, the company has processed millions of bookings from general practitioners, pharmacies and other health clinics

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Since its inception in 2014, the company has processed millions of bookings from general practitioners, pharmacies and other health clinicsCredit: Alamy

https://www.thesun.ie/health/8567102/elderly-irish-patients-tech-gps-online-lockdown/ Elderly Irish are using technology to visit GPs online in the wake of the pandemic as virtual patients surge past 300,000

Fry Electronics Team

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