COVID-19 has created lasting health, lifestyle habits
The COVID-19 lockdown has strengthened the Australian public’s relationship with technology and solidified some key digital health and lifestyle habits, according to a new survey by NBN Co and Venture Insights.
The use of online tools for health support, exercise, skills training and entertainment has surged since the onset of the pandemic, with usage expected to remain high after government restrictions are lifted.
Brad Whitcomb, Chief Customer Officer at NBN Co, said the forced shift towards digital services has helped the public realise the benefits of online substitutes and may therefore generate lasting behavioural change.
“Our research shows that people have significantly increased their use of online services and that many expect new online habits to stick as life returns to normal,” he said.
“One of the activities that is being heavily supported is telehealth. The waiting room is no longer an essential stop on the path to see a GP and now more than ever Australians of all ages are accessing telehealth services — a trend that is likely to continue once restrictions have lifted.
“Accessing telehealth services saves both money and time as patients no longer need to jump in the car and drive to a consultation. This is particularly important for many regional and rural Australians, who may need to travel long distances to see a specialist,” he added.
Almost half (48%) of respondents who visited their GP in the past two months did so virtually via telehealth services, and almost two-thirds (63%) said they would continue using telehealth services into the future.
Lasting changing may also be seen in fitness and education industries, with one in two respondents working from home now also keeping fit via online exercise classes and 30% of young people undertaking online work skills training.
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher welcomed the research and said the findings demonstrate the need for better-quality broadband connections throughout the country.
“The research supports the decision by NBN Co to offer higher-bandwidth nbn connections to Australian GP clinics at no extra cost during the pandemic, allowing them to provide more services by telehealth,” he said in a statement.
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