A new national men’s health awareness campaign has launched this week by NHS-assured health management app ‘myGP’, to further enourage the rise in male patients being proactive about seeking professional medical advice, thanks to being able to do so via a smartphone.
One of the biggest public health campaigns so far in 2021, will reach millions of NHS patients, both digitally and physically, right across the UK, with a special focus on those ‘public’ places where health complaints automatically become a taboo subject – such as the top deck of a bus or in a queue outside a shop.
The campaign has been created to remind male patients that they don’t need to physically attend a surgery, or speak to a receptionist to seek professional healthcare advice. The campaign was created as a result of a study of 1,000 male patients undertaken by myGP which revealed that 77 percent of men believe the pandemic has made them more mindful of their health, and 82 percent said they are now more inclined to seek professional health advice because they can do so remotely. [i]
According to the study, the main reasons male patients had put off seeking medical advice were associated with having to physically attend a clinic or surgery and present symptoms to a clinician (70%). These consisted of awkward conversations with reception staff (29%), undressing (15%), awkward silence of the waiting room and/or seeing other patients (15%) or feeling they had wasted the clinician’s time (11%).
One of the main reasons that men put off seeking medical advice was lack of flexible appointment times (55%) around their office working hours – an issue that has temporarily been removed, as around 50 percent of the nation continue to work from home[ii].
The myGP study revealed that the majority of men (82%) said they would much prefer a remote consultation to get the health advice they need, whether that be via a traditional phone call (40%), an instant messaging service (30%), a video consultation (21%), or an artificial health bot (19%).
Almost a quarter of men polled (23%) said a remote consultation would remove the main barrier to seeking advice for them – embarrassment. When asked what type of health issues they would be most embarrassed to seek advice on in person, they said:
- Sex-related genital complaints – 41%
- Non sex-related genital complaints – 21%
- Rectum – anything that requires a stool sample / internal examination – 17%
- Mental health – 13%
- Urine infections – 9%
- Bad breath – 8%
- Gas / wind – 6%
- Snoring – 6%
- Weight issues – 5%
- Bodily odours – 5%
To grab attention, the main campaign creative focusses on erectile dysfunction, which tops the chart when it comes to men’s most embarrassing health concerns, and is also a common symptom of other serious health issues.
Rick Romero, the actor who featured at the centre of the new health campaign, comments on why he was so keen to help raise awareness:
“No matter what type or size of health issue you have, for some people it’s never easy to make the decision to go and see a GP face-to-face. A straw poll of my friends and family quickly revealed that many of them didn’t know they could seek advice or book a remote consultation via their smartphone, so I thought I could do my bit by raising awareness.
“This short video focuses on a common, but potentially life-changing or threatening symptom in a subtle but humorous way, to let people know that with a few taps on an app, you’re under the care of a healthcare professional.”
Dr Preeti Shukla, NHS-GP in Blackburn, and medical advisor to the UK’s leading GP booking and health management app, myGP, comments on the study’s positive findings:
“Being a digital native GP, I value the ease of access and efficiency that remote consultations offer, and now knowing that 82% of males are even more likely to seek medical advice or reassurance when they can do so remotely, I feel even more confident in this way of working. I believe many GPs will find this study reassuring, and will welcome the increased awareness delivered by the new health campaign.
“My advice to males putting off seeking medical advice is to remember that bodies are like vehicles – sometimes they provide a smooth ride where we don’t need to think about what’s going on under the bonnet and sometimes they need some fine-tuning. There’s no such thing as a new issue – GPs will have seen the issue you are experiencing multiple – if not thousands – of times before and will do everything they can to put you at ease.”
One of the UK’s leading health technology innovators, Tobias Alpsten, the Founder of iPLATO, the creator of myGP, comments on the uplift of health proactivity in male patients as a result of improved digital access:
“In the last 12 months we have seen a 22 percent increase in males downloading the myGP app to access free medical advice and support, and we saw a definite spike at the beginning of the pandemic.
“With digital access comes increased choice – some patients will opt for full anonymity, and be happy to be helped by an informed health bot, and some will opt for a video consultation with a GP, which can remove the awkwardness of being in the same room.
“Allowing patients to request and book an appointment with a few taps on a smartphone makes a big difference too – not having to find a private place to speak to a receptionist can mean the difference between seeking advice or not, for some patients – it certainly does for me. It’s all about us having the choice to manage our health, our way, and the pandemic has accelerated that, which is great.”
Other interesting findings from the myGP study reveal that, out of the 90 percent of male patients who do consult someone about their health issues, a medical expert ranks second to their partner (47%) and is followed by a member of their immediate family (19%), a close friend (19%) or ‘Dr Google’ – via online searches or forums (9%).
Sadly, despite the accelerated digital health revolution in the UK, one in 10 men will continue to keep their health issues to themselves, telling no-one – not even their partner (10%).
myGP is available for download for free at www.mygp.com.
[i] A survey of 2,000 NHS patients (1,000 male NHS patients) commissioned by myGP on 3-7 July 2020, via 3Gem Research