The doctor will Skype you now...

Thanks to advances in technology, we can now get up to the minute news on the move, order our shopping and bank online, or video-call friends and family overseas.

So it is perhaps no surprise that the way we manage our healthcare is also changing as technology develops.

According to research commissioned by Best Doctors people are increasingly turning to the internet for health related information, with 89 per cent of survey respondents saying they would go-online following diagnosis by their doctor.

Another study, which surveyed consumers and healthcare executives in the US, found that one in three people were using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter for health related issues.

Keith Pollard, Managing Director of Intuition Communication, said that social media had altered the ‘patient-provider dynamic’: “The web has changed the power of patient voice, the involvement of patients in decision making and their treatment.”

So while we can ‘like’ our friends’ status updates and photographs on Facebook, increasing numbers are also locating and commenting on health services and treatments via the web, thanks to online social forums where people discuss everything from dentistry to diabetes.

Chamber Primary Health Plan provider Westfield Health recognises the importance of providing its policyholders with easy and immediate access to information and services.

The Chamber Plan, which is available to all members of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, provides money back towards the cost of everyday healthcare such as dental treatment, eye care, physiotherapy and diagnostic consultations, as well as providing fast access to scanning facilities and counselling services.

Employees can manage their account online by logging into the My Westfield area of Westfield Health’s website. They are able to view and amend their personal details, check benefit balances and view their claims history.

Additionally, Westfield offers a Text Messaging Service and iPhone app, where employees can check their benefit balances.

The Chamber Plan also includes an online Personal Health Risk Assessment, which gives employees an easy to understand and visual representation of their current health status.

Based on the unique Q-Score™ system, the assessment helps employees to understand how their lifestyle impacts on their health, as well as to identify steps they can take to improve their health and wellbeing and track their progress along the way.

Derived from the aggregated and anonymised results of employees’ Health Risk Assessments, a Company Health Report enables employers to identify any prevailing health risks affecting their workforce.

Westfield has also enhanced its existing GP telephone consultation service DoctorLine by introducing new webcam consultation service. The online facility will enable employees to see and speak to a qualified UK GP during normal surgery hours, while giving doctors the opportunity to use visual aids and diagrams to clarify the advice they give.

For more information about the Chamber Plan, visit www.westfieldhealth.com/chamber or call 0845 602 1629, available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

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