There are many people out there who have made it a habit to diagnose themselves online by just typing in their symptoms. There are many forums and probably thousands of “experts” who would not hesitate to give you their opinion and diagnose you in the comfort of your own home and without you having to pull a penny out of your pocket.
Nowadays, people have a much safer option than simply googling their symptoms and waiting for information to appear. There is “Symptom Checkers” which was implemented by medical schools and hospitals such as Harvard and Mayo clinic, respectively. This obviously makes it more reliable and sophisticated.
However, after testing about 23 such websites, the researchers from Harvard Medical School advise you not to give up going to the doctor just yet. The researchers tested 45 medical cases. While 26 were ordinary ones, the rest of them were quite uncommon. Fifteen of the cases could be treated at home, fifteen needed emergency care and the remaining ones were severe but did not require emergency treatment.
The conclusion was that although it is tempting to use Symptom Checkers online, the accuracy might not be the desired one.
Basically, the accuracy percentage was a bit more than 50 percent overall. They appeared to be useful at notifying the person in need whether or not he or she should seek an expert’s advice, but were less successful regarding diagnosis.
The researchers also discovered that Symptom Checkers were more useful in critical cases, where the search provided correct recommendation of needing medical care 80 percent of the time.
In the rest of the cases, their accuracy was very much flawed. Most of the 23 websites used were able to give a correct diagnosis about 30 percent of the time. They were not extremely successful when listing the probable diagnoses either, as the correct one ranked in the top 20 only 60 percent of the time.
According to the authors of the paper published in the British Medical Journal, Symptom Checkers is not really the worst thing in the world but it can confuse patients and sometimes mislead them into inking they have developed a condition they are far from having.
Therefore, it is safe to say that it is still important to seek an expert’s advice, no matter how reliable the online source might seem.
Image Source: ahchealthenews