Do you use health websites, apps and products to look after yourself, or do believe that healthcare should be left to the professionals? With the NHS promoting Self Care Week, maybe it’s time to take responsibility.
It’s Self Care Week and the NHS Direct app has announced its millionth download.
But is the wealth of information, ever-increasing home-health products, and proliferation of health services that clamour for our attention a good thing or do they lead to confusion, misdiagnosis, worry and misguided optimism?
As I think back to some of the health products and services we’ve looked at in the past year, it strikes me that it can be very difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff.
These include self-test kits which led experts to conclude that you’d be better off keeping your money in your pocket and going to your GP, whole-body CT scans that can, in themselves, lead to health problems, and breast-scanning equipment with a less than adequate evidence base.
No-one would want people to be disempowered, and of course it is a great saving of precious NHS time and resource if people can be enabled to use their own common sense (and maybe an app) to diagnose and treat minor ailments, lose weight or stop smoking. But how do we know what products, services and advice we can trust?
Figures earlier this year suggested that as many as a quarter of people visiting A&E may be doing so unnecessarily, so is it any wonder that the department of health is promoting self-care week and reminding us that we can sometimes figure it out for ourselves?
My question is whether – with the white noise of products and services without a proper evidence-base – it’s always easy to know just how we should take the responsibility into our own hands?