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Published on October 7, 2014

Dr Google will see you now

Dr Google will see you now

The last time you felt unwell, did you look up your symptoms online? If you did, you’re not alone!

In recent years there has been a 13.5% surge in the number of people searching for terms related to their health, and a third of doctors surveyed say that their patients come to them with their own pre-appointment diagnoses.

Many patients may feel that this is a positive step towards helping the doctor to help them. But could this actually be doing more harm than good? Doctors think so.

Fewer than 5% of doctors felt that patients googling their own symptoms was helpful. The reason being, Dr Google doesn’t diagnose with the particular patient in mind. It instead works on general assumptions and statistics about the wider population – this can result in the misdiagnosis of a more serious condition, unnecessarily worrying the patient.

However, doctors are finding the internet useful for their own needs. As many as three quarters of doctors say they turn to the net to research conditions. Many also use the net to share information with their colleagues.

And for patients, whilst doctors feel self-diagnosing through the web can do more harm than good, they say that using the internet for monitoring general health has a positive impact. There are many health-related apps which cater to this, helping patients to manage their diabetes, pregnancy and diet, for example.

Tell us what you think – do you find googling your symptoms helpful or just worrying? Are there any health-related apps which you use daily?

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