Problems with using Dr. Google
We’ve all done it. You experience symptoms, type them into the search bar and then start to sift through all of the “experts” on the internet. But how reliable is the information and is there a better way to find the answers you need? Jason Liu, MD, offered some questions to ask yourself before you turn to Dr. Google.
Is the information accurate and does it apply to me?
While some websites are reliable, others have unverified information that can cause you additional anxiety and make you feel worse. Dr. Liu said it’s important to realize every person is different. “Sometimes we have vague signs that can apply to just about anything. Not all coughs are cancer, not all chest pain is a cardiac problem, and not every abnormal lab result is clinically significant.”
Is the website trying to sell me something?
Who is putting their names on these websites and what do they really want? Many are selling products or services that might not be appropriate for you. It’s better to look to trusted sources, such as your local healthcare providers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Instititutes of Health.
Can you simply ask your doctor?
Dr. Liu said, “The digital age has given us more ways to reach out directly to a doctor for a variety of questions.” Some examples of helpful digital services include:
- Patient portals: An online portal, such as Prisma Health’s MyChart, that allows you to send and receive messages. Some providers even offer real-time video appointments through the portal.
- Virtual care options: There are low-cost services, such as Prisma Health’s E-Visit, where you can receive care through a mobile device or computer for minor conditions such as cold and flu, sore throat, rashes and urinary tract infections. Simply answer a few questions about your symptoms and a provider will contact you with a diagnosis and treatment options.
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