Why you shouldn't trust Dr. Google

October 5, 2021

Mark L. Friedman, MD, FACEP, FACP

When you have a question about your symptoms, you want answers fastWondering why you have joint pain, or what that weird rash is? Dr. Google is always in. Always there to take in your symptoms and spit out a meaningful, medically-accurate diagnosis within seconds, right? 

Actually, Dr. Google can cause more harm than healing. The results you find online: 

  • are usually wrong. According to a study from British Medical Journal, the correct diagnosis only came up first 34% of the time. 
  • can cause health anxiety. Turning to the internet for diagnostic information can lead to cyberchondriaThat’s a fancy way of saying, “Googling your symptoms will make you more anxious.” 
  • won’t be customized to you. The article Dr. Google spits out won’t know your health history, current medications, whether there are outbreaks in your area, or other personal factors that are key to a correct diagnosis. 
But don’t worry. Retiring Dr. Google doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your time, energy or peace of mind. 

 

Get answers from a real doctor in minutes!  

First Stop Health Telemedicine doctors call patients in 3 minutes (on average), so why waste time stressing over scary and confusing search results? Our doctors will: 

  • provide personalized, on-demand care via phone or video.  
  • ask questions about your symptoms, health history and other factors to reach an accurate diagnosis. 
  • guide you to the best treatment plan for you, whether that’s prescription*, advice to seek in-person care, or just old-fashioned rest and chicken soup. 

Our doctors have heard it all, and can answer questions like: 

  • “Can I use Pepto-Bismol if I’m pregnant?” 
  • “Could I have COVID-19?” 
  • Is this what heartburn feels like?” 
  • “Should I go to the ER for an x-ray?” 
  • “Should I be worried about this lump?” 


Conclusion

The key to getting the right answers is asking the right questions, which doctors are trained to do. They also know how to evaluate your answers and ask follow-up questions that lead to the most accurate conclusion.  

Doctors learn what is dangerousand what is not, through many years of experience with thousands of patients. Dr. Google and other artificial intelligence algorithms can be valuable in the right hands, but misleading and even downright dangerous for the beginner. 

 

 


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Originally published Oct 5, 2021 5:00:00 PM.