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New Research Finds That Medical Self Diagnosis Apps Can Offer Limited Accuracy Rates at Best

According to a recent study from Harvard Medical School, many of the most popular medical self diagnosing apps and websites currently on the market can offer limited accuracy and results when it comes to identifying a condition based on a user’s self identified symptoms. After reviewing 23 sites for the study, with Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and DocResponse among them, the study found that as little as one third of the sites listed the correct diagnosis as the first option for patients. “Certain apps and online resources, like WebMD and Mayo Clinic, can be useful and provide great general information, but when it comes to obtaining an accurate diagnosis for conditions like osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis, it is very important for patients to work with an experienced rheumatologist in order to receive proper treatment and care. Their health and overall quality of life can depend on it,” said Dr. Baker, a board-certified rheumatologist and expert in rheumatic and autoimmune conditions.

With as many as 100 million people using symptom checker software according to available data, an over reliance on the web solutions can lead to confusion and incorrect conclusions when patients do not follow up a self diagnosis with a professional consultation. Additionally, they can also lead to people seeking unnecessary medical care in many cases.

After entering symptoms from 45 patients from case studies used to train medical students, the Harvard researchers found that roughly half the sites had the correct diagnosis among their top three results, with 58% in their top 20 suggestions. The typical diagnosis accuracy rate for physicians is estimated to be between 85% and 90%.

“We’re not telling patients that they should avoid or stop using the apps and websites for general information,” added Dr. Baker. “What we want to emphasize is that disease and the human body are complicated, and self-diagnosing on the internet should never take the place of working with a qualified physician and medical professional.”

Board-certified in both internal medicine and rheumatology, Dr. Baker has been practicing medicine in Beverly Hills since 2003. In addition to her primary practice, she holds teaching position at Cedars Sinai Hospital. and is a clinical instructor of medicine for UCLA, David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Baker has been received numerous awards including the “Patient’s Choice Award” and the “Most Compassionate Doctor” award.
To contact Susan A. Baker MD, Rheumatology & Internal Medicine please click here or call (310) 274–7770.

Next, learn how you can avoid arthritis

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