With 75 million visitors per month, WebMD is the leading provider of health information. It provides this information free of charge to consumers as well as various services to physicians, healthcare professionals, employers and health plans.
We, as consumers, put our trust in websites that provides content that impacts our health and wellbeing. What happened to going to see our family doctor to discuss what ails us?
Well, according to a recent study, more than one-third of U.S. adults now use the Internet to self-diagnose their medical condition. The reality is that we can be misled by the plethora of health information on the Internet. Without our real MD to help filter and guide us, a common cold turns into a potentially serious illness.
Robert Glatter, MD writes in a Forbes article, Your Doctor Vs. Dr. Google: And The Winner Is... that symptom checkers may trigger anxiety in patients, leading to frantic calls to doctors’ offices, or even sending them to the emergency room after consulting Dr. Google.
In a conversation at a professional training event, a Neurologist explained to me that he sees patients coming to the office convinced that they have degenerative neurological diseases. They have consulted with WebMD and now they want confirmation from him. True, some of them may present with symptoms that could be a sign of a medical condition. His expertise, knowledge and experience enable a proper diagnosis.
Symptom checkers alone may not tell the whole picture and a doctor’s visit may be just what the doctor ordered.
According to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, doctors are more effective for accurate diagnosis than symptom checkers, especially for complex symptoms. The study evaluated 23 apps from several online sources, including WebMD and the Mayo Clinic.
For conditions such as essential tremor, a neurologist specializing in movement disorders should be consulted for diagnosis. WebMD won’t cut it. To find a neurologist, visit the International Essential Tremor Foundation web page.
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