Monday, July 13, 2015
Online symptom checkers horrible diagnosticians
Of course, they often also tell you to go to the doctor.
The study of three symptom checkers showed also that when they listed 20 diagnoses--the answer were there only 60% of the time.
Worse, they also suggested tests or procedures that were not needed.
They loaded 45 more or less real patient vingettes--a third suggesting need for immediate attention (such as a stoke), someone who should see a doctor but was not in immediate danger (ear infection), and someone who could care for himself (cold).
They were risk-averse, the study showed--usually recommending checking with a doctor.
Interestingly, the results matched pretty well with call-in checkers.
All were better than Dr. Google. You have to go to medical school to make sense of some of the hits on Dr. G.