Searching for Medical Advice from Google? Here's a Better Option.

freshbenies on Sep 28, 2018 3:00:00 AM
Guest blog content provided to Q4iNetwork consultants by freshbenies freshbenies-Logo-CMYK 2018

What would we do without Google? It's the world’s greatest encyclopedia. There's nothing you can’t find with a simple Google search.  

  • Need to look up recipes with zucchini and squash? Voila! You’re on your way to a gourmet meal.
  • Need to find out which band wrote Touch of Grey? Grateful Dead fans won’t need to search this, but it's easily found.
  • Need to find medical advice or direction on symptoms you’re experiencing? Hold on. This one isn’t so simple.

This is now personal and your good health may depend on it.

As the doctor shortage worsens, networks shrink, insurance coverage decreases, and medical care costs increase, Americans need non-traditional places to turn to for care and solid advice. With a Doctors Online service, members have access to email their medical questions 24/7 to board-certified physicians, psychologists, pediatricians, alternative medicine specialists, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, nutritionists, dietitians, etc. They receive answers specific to their symptoms and medical history within hours.

Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you went on a desert hiking trip. It was awesome. You hiked the Grand Canyon! You’re amazing! A week or two later, you’re feeling significantly less awesome. You notice some weird symptoms that are plaguing you. So you go online and Google them.

But when it comes to diagnosing illness, there are a few serious drawbacks to using this method of search and discovery.

Google doesn’t have true answers for vague symptoms

Search “flu like symptoms with stiff neck and headache” and you’ll be ordering your cemetery plot in no time. Trying to self-diagnose based on general symptoms can be confusing and alarming. Only when a more specific symptom presents itself will you be able to narrow down the possibilities. And even then, you could be going down the wrong path.

In this case, you’re in luck (or maybe unlucky?) because you’ve also developed a bullseye shaped rash on your shoulder. Now you’re wondering if maybe you picked up a tic during your epic hike. And maybe a case of Lyme disease?

Sure enough, your new symptom causes Lyme Disease to show up in your search results. But even so, you’re not qualified to diagnose. You need a professional opinion, preferably sooner rather than later.      

This is where using a Telehealth service can become invaluable. You can take a picture of the rash, explain the myriad of other symptoms, and email this information to a panel of physician specialists. Soon you’ll receive a personalized response in your app or in-box. In many cases, it will be from a board-certified physician who will confirm, question, or deny your suspicions and invite you to follow up with additional information or concerns.

In this case, the physician agrees with your assessment. You may have Lyme Disease, in which case you will likely need treatment.

But you can’t just Google “Lyme Disease cure.”

Google searches are not efficient for evaluating treatment protocols       

Because the internet has WAY too much information, professional guidance is needed. In all likelihood, this is where you would head to your primary care doctor. However, you may be able to consult with your Telehealth physician for a second opinion regarding appropriate treatment options.

This will save you time and money by eliminating the need for multiple trips to multiple offices. Plus, you can ask as many follow up questions online as necessary, all for no additional cost.   

Meanwhile, here’s one more reason not to trust the internet for treatment options.

Google can’t help with a prolonged illness

If you’re experiencing a major medical crisis in your life, sometimes you just need quick answers and reliable advice as you’re going through it. In this case, searching Google every time you have a new question will be more alarming than helpful.

And as you can imagine, calling your doctor or jumping in the car every time a new symptom you perceive as concerning pops up, may not be realistic. BUT, being able to have a back and forth conversation with a physician who knows your illness, situation, and has access to your medical history and tests (if you send them) is invaluable. This not only saves on medical costs, it’s a service that brings HUGE peace of mind.

The bottom line

Google is an amazing technology that has radically changed our lives, often for the better. Even so, it’s not the best help for our medical needs. The great news is that there is other great technology, like Telehealth, that can ease our minds and wallets in the midst of a medical issue.

Why not take advantage of it?

 

Photo by Kaspars Grinvalds 

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