Why do Kiwis go online for health information?

The majority of Kiwis are using the internet or social media to access health information, with females and those under forty most likely to educate themselves online.

The five most viewed topics in the Southern Cross medical library, which offers information on a broad range of medical conditions and procedures, including prevention tips and health promotion ideas, were:

1. Pneumonia – 217,000 (47% of these accessed from a smartphone)

2. Glandular fever – 131,000 (43% accessed from a smartphone)

3. Strep throat – 121,500 (53% accessed from a smartphone)

4. Gout – 87,700 (34% accessed from a smartphone)

5. Shingles – 92,300 (37% accessed from a smartphone)

Tynan says this is not surprising given where technology is going and consumers’ desire for instant access to information.

So much so he says that Southern Cross has seen this reflected in its own member base and has responded with a number of innovative digital services, such as Easy-claim - an electronic point-of-sale system that allows members to claim instantly at a range of healthcare providers.

Southern Cross was also the first health insurer in New Zealand to launch a web-based self-service portal, My Southern Cross, which allows policyholders to claim online, view electronic copies of correspondence, review their policy information and update their details.

“People want a variety of ways of interacting with us depending on what sort of information they need, where they are and what they are doing,” Tynan adds.

“For instance, if someone is out and about and wants to check their policy benefits, then a smartphone app makes perfect sense, but if they want to discuss prior approval for a procedure then they will want to speak with someone on the phone.

“Our contact centre receives over 500,000 phone calls each year, so there is clearly a strong need for members to communicate with us.

“However over 50% of our claims are now received electronically.”

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