Don’t Rely on Dr Google
Have you ever gone online to research a symptom, condition or medication? Well if so, you’re not alone - research published by BUPA in December 2011 (looking at patient behaviour in Australia) revealed that over 70% of those surveyed research their medications online whilst 50% self-diagnose from information gleaned from the internet.
However, as indispensible as the internet is for providing information, it does sometimes struggle in the field of health and medicine. Take for instance the results from a search for vaccination – a cornerstone of modern medicine. A Google search will typically reveal more first page results relating to anti immunization groups and their beliefs than any of the well-researched and proven benefits and applications of vaccination.
In February 2012 Google announced a development of their search engine that would link symptoms submitted in a search, with a list of health conditions. However, Google’s Chief Health Strategist Roni Zeiger was keen to make it clear that the results were generated by algorithms and not authored by qualified doctors.
The concern is that searching for a symptom like stomach cramps, can result in such a wide range of conditions being listed from indigestion through to gall stones or appendicitis that it is difficult for the concerned citizen to draw any meaningful conclusions - without expert medical input from a real, live doctor.
Our message is yes do use the internet – especially reputable sites such as NHS Choices - to research symptoms, conditions and medication if you feel that helps you but please do this as well as visiting your doctor, not instead of. There is simply no substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a qualified, experienced and sympathetic doctor.
We offer full heath MOT’s for anyone concerned about their health or you can book a private GP appointment with us to discuss any health concerns. We have rapid access, appointments at a time to suit you.
Reference 1) www.searchengineland.com - ‘Where’s it hurt? After you search for a symptom new Google Health search Results suggest causes’