Online searches for symptoms often provide more confusion than clarity. In contrast, self-tests can make sure people get the right information about their state of health.
Societies are getting older and older. In Europe 25% of the population is already aged 60 or over. By 2050, this figure is projected to rise to 35%1. Especially in this aging population, a healthy lifestyle will be key to people. And they take this task in their own hands already at an early stage in life. One example: In Europe alone, the number of fitness club members grew again in 2016 to over 56 million people, an increase of 4.4% from 20152.
As Holger Prange, Head of the Personal Healthcare division, states: “most people make health an absolute priority and manage it in a way that fits their lifestyle” – not only to prevent illness but to also enhance their quality of life. Very often, this also includes people wanting their health questions answered right away when they’re at home.
A typical approach: searching on Google. In Europe, about 60 percent of the population uses the internet to search for health-related information3, and about two-thirds of the time they get the wrong diagnosis4. Additionally, 25 percent of European consumers state that they wish more convenient and easy-to-use health products were available on the market5. So we ran the “Google test”: we searched for a common symptom – “constant fatigue”. 0.57 seconds later, we got 487,000 search results. But how do we get a clear answer from nearly 500,000 search results?
“There is a gap between accessible health information and the correct answers – especially when you need them fast”, says Marie Mosova, Marketing Manager at HARTMANN-RICO in the Czech Republic. Marie was responsible for the product launch of Veroval® SELF-TESTS in 2016. With the home tests, consumers can check their health condition in terms of prevention, intolerances, allergies and family planning – and they get their results within minutes. “During the test phase in 2015, we already recognized a sustainable interest from consumers towards the self-test range. Especially as they provide a high accuracy rating proven in everyday medical use”.
About 1,000 kilometres west of Veverská Bítýška, HARTMANN´s headquarters in the Czech Republic, we met up with Stefan Brosens in Saintes, Belgium. “I tried all tests by myself. My only health issue is high cholesterol, and I’m now on medication for it. But the first hint of this came from the cholesterol self-test”, the HARTMANN Business Unit Manager says. Like Marie, he helped with the market launch of the self-tests in Belgium in 2017. “In the Flemish as well as French parts of the country we had a high demand for the intestinal prevention test, which helps to locate blood in the stool. This provides a clear indication as to whether if preventive measures by a doctor need to be taken”.
Shortly after the test came to the market, the Belgian government rolled out a second national campaign on colorectal cancer, offering free tests to everybody over 55 years of age. “Although you could go to the doctor for free during the campaign, people used our tests. Such a test is very intimate, so patients feel more comfortable doing it at home. And there is a large group of people who almost never see a doctor at all”, Stefan continues. The tests make people more aware of their health and motivate them to take the first step to clarity about their condition. “Patients need easily accessible and reliable information to make educated decisions and take the right next step to properly care for themselves – we try to help them with that”, Stefan adds.
In the Czech Republic, the test for celiac disease was well received by consumers. “Gluten-free diets are a hot topic over here. Many people hear about it and think it might be healthy to eat completely gluten-free”, says Marie. However, this is often an unnecessary nutritional sacrifice that can also have detrimental effects on the body, as gluten-free food quite often contains fewer vitamins and dietary fibres. “With the test we can help to end some myths. So if you are not sure if you are gluten-intolerant, just test yourself”. If a test is positive or a consumer is not sure about the result, they should go to their doctor. “We will never stand between patient and doctor. The physician provides the final diagnosis”, Marie says. The range of self-test products strives to be a link between growing patient needs and proper care by healthcare professionals – for the good of both sides.
1 UNO “World population projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050”, Report
2 Deloitte, The European Fitness Market at a Glance 2017, Report
3 TNS Political & Social (2015, November). Flash Eurobarometer 404: European Citizens’ Digital health Literacy. European Commission. Retrieved from report
4 Whitehead, N. (2015, July 9). Online Symptom Checkers Can't Replace The Real-Life Doc Just Yet. NPR. Retrieved from report
5 Nielsen. (2015, June). Looking to achieving new product successes? Listen to you consumers. The Nielsen Company. Retrieved from report