Online diagnosis including crazy diets to dangerous gym routines, the web is flooded with pseudo-experts offering advice that’s at best untested and possibly baleful. No wonder doctors want us to check in with them first.
Thanks to a boom in free health-related online diagnosis platforms, more patients in India are turning to online diagnosis and mobile apps as their first source for diagnosis and medication. But how much can one trust “mobile healthcare”?
Social media has been responsible for relevant changes in both personal and community health, especially by making it easier for large numbers of people to rapidly share information. This has brought with it both strengths, such as the ability to have preventative and diagnostic/reactive information widely available, and challenges, such as the potential for misinformation to rapidly circulate without the involvement of health practitioners, institutions and organisations.
“Commonly searched sites, like WebMD, often lack depth,” says Kathryn Greene, Ph.D., a health communication professor at Rutgers University. “That can be okay for very general info. But if you’re looking up, say, tingling hands, these sites can lead to very alarming perceptions.”
According to the researchers at Harvard Medical School last week with their findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, revealed that doctors make a correct diagnosis more than twice as often as 23 commonly used symptom-checker apps.
Arpita Das from Bengaluru wanted to track her calorie intake, but she wasn’t keen to visit a dietician due to the prohibitive consultation charges and the high cost of tests. Das turned to Google Fit, a mobile fitness app for help instead, even though she stopped using it within a fortnight.
“It was troublesome to log data every time when I went online,” she said.
While digital channels offer greater cost transparency, facilitate ’doctorless’ medicine and help practitioners remotely monitor patient data, patients are still advised to share information with doctors rather than self-medicate.
In order to prevent yourselves from regretting later, go for some nationally recognised blogs or websites that provide you accurate information.