Study finds online symptom checkers inaccurate

Patients who turn to websites such WebMD, Mayo Clinic and AskMD for health queries more often than not get inaccurate information from the sites, according to a study by Harvard Medical School researchers.

They found that many online symptom checkers had "deficits in both diagnosis and triage accuracy."

"Together, confusion, risk adverse triage advice, and cyberchondria could mean that symptom checkers encourage patients to receive care unnecessarily and thus increase healthcare spending," the authors write in the study.

They add that the impact of online symptom checkers depends on how people interpret and use the information given, and that impact should be a focus of future research. Study

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