Study Tests Google as a Diagnostic Tool

Posted on November 13, 2006

A research study has found that using Google can be a useful diagnostic tool. The study found Google searches revealed the correct diagnosis in 15 out of 26 cases (58%).
Setting One year's (2005) diagnostic cases published in the case records of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Cases 26 cases from the New England Journal of Medicine; management cases were excluded.

Main outcome measure Percentage of correct diagnoses from Google searches (compared with the diagnoses as published in the New England Journal of Medicine).

Results Google searches revealed the correct diagnosis in 15 (58%, 95% confidence interval 38% to 77%) cases.

Conclusion As internet access becomes more readily available in outpatient clinics and hospital wards, the web is rapidly becoming an important clinical tool for doctors. The use of web based searching may help doctors to diagnose difficult cases.
Search does seem like a valuable tool for doctors trying to determine a possible diagnose based on a variety of symptoms. The Internet has definitely helped a lot of patients communicate with people suffering from similar diseases and conditions.
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