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Thursday 25 July 2013

Dr. Google may have a place in health care after all, experts say

As websites improve, doctors say it's OK to search your symptoms

One hospital has made a symptom checker available on its website

July 24, 2013

While online websites can sometimes steer patients astray—"people tend to freak out when they read all the scary conditions they might [have]" according to one expert—more doctors and hospitals are now encouraging patients to better understand their symptoms by looking them up online, Laura Landro writes for the Wall Street Journal.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a Philips North America survey conducted in December 2012 found that more than 40% of U.S. residents reported feeling comfortable about using online tools to understand their symptoms. The survey also found that 25% of people use such symptom-checkers just as often as they visit their physicians, while another 25% said they use the tools as an alternative to seeing their doctors.

Experts: Websites have pros, cons

Symptom-checking websites can have both positive and negative effects on care, according to some experts.
For example, patients might see their physicians with a list of serious but unlikely illnesses that the sites suggested, which might require unnecessary and costly screenings. Additionally, some patients have avoided seeking necessary medical care because the online sites suggested that their symptoms did not require a physician visit.
On the other hand, lists of possible ailments from the websites could help physicians make a diagnosis that they might not have considered, preventing missed diagnoses, says Jason Maude, CEO of Isabel Healthcare, which produces an online diagnosis checklist for physicians. Moreover, encouraging patients to use online tools beforehand could save time and make consultations more productive.
"Patients are experts on their symptoms and doctors are experts in working out their probable causes," and need to work together to create a list of possible diagnoses, says Maude.
Omaha Children's Hospital & Medical Center is one of the many companies that have begun offering symptom-checkers as part of a broader set of interactive tools for patients. In January, the hospital added Isabel to its homepage, and it plans to include a link to Isabel's consumer symptom check in the login page for its new electronic health record system.
"People are already using the Internet for health information and we are giving them a much better tool than just googling a bunch of stuff," says Omaha Children's Chief Information Officer George Reynolds, adding, "They get better and smarter questions to come to their doctor with" (Landro, Journal, 7/22).


blinkered said...

More of us will be visiing Dr Google if those charges are brought in I am sure.
On the other hand I have always found it better to have at least some idea of what my symptoms could mean before I visit a GP.
So as not to take up too much of my opthalmologists time I look up much as possible about treatments etc so he doesn't have to explain everything to me. He knows and appreciates this.
His colleague, on the other hand recommends Duk website only as fit for patients !

Lori Miller said...

I started using Dr. Google because I wanted to get off acid blockers and my gastroenterologist, despite having no answers, had a month-long waiting list. I suspect a lot of people are in the same boat.

Anonymous said...

More and more of us do use Dr Google. For better, For worse, perhaps it's a mix of the two. But yes I will continue to use Dr Google's help when needed.

Paul B

Anonymous said...

Don't use ETYM to solve any problems if it comes up in the search as people there are voting with their feet.

The silence from the Admin is deafening.

Lowcarb team member said...

What ETYM needs is a boat rocker, an argumentative son of a bitch that queries the bullshit and wishy washy dietary advice. A man without compromise who takes on the braying mob. A man who does not suck the kneecaps of forum owners and the more grovelling mods.

That gets the punters in, and they start posting, and while they are watching the trouble maker getting flogged in the stocks, they read something that might help them, such as interesting articles or recipes etc. Maybe a great success story or two. Oh no, I just remembered, someone tried that and they banned the son of a bitch, and quite right too ! Good grief, diabetes discussions should never spoil afternoon tea, it wouldn’t be British by Jove. More jam scones anyone ? Grazer pass the hobnobs old chap, be a sport.


Anonymous said...

I think the new name for ETYM should have been Titanic.