Dr. Google. Have you visited him? Chances are good, you have.
Visiting Dr. Google essentially means researching your symptoms via the search engine and self-diagnosing. Some people take this route in conjunction with visiting an actual health professional, but others take Dr. Google’s word for it and treat themselves accordingly.
A recent study showed that in a head-to-head comparison, human doctors with access to the same information about medical history and symptoms as was put into a symptom checker got the diagnosis right 72 percent of the time, compared to 34 percent for apps and search engines.
According to the study, doctors also got it right more often for the more serious conditions and the more uncommon diagnoses, while computer algorithms were better at spotting less serious conditions and more common diagnoses, according to the results published in a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine.
“It is not nearly as important for a patient with fever, headache, stiff neck and confusion to know whether they have meningitis or encephalitis as it is for them to know that they should get to a doctor quickly,” senior study author Ateev Mehrotra, associate professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a statement.