Print Edition - 2019-05-16  |  Health and Living

Online symptom checker often wrong on eye problems

  • misdiagnoses

May 16, 2019-

People looking to a popular online symptom checker for answers about eye problems often get a wrong diagnosis, a small study suggests.

Symptom checkers are all over the web, often using algorithms to deliver diagnoses even as they post disclaimers advising against using these tools for medical advice. While some studies have already documented many ways that symptom checkers can mislead patients, less is known about how well they work specifically for eye conditions, researchers note in JAMA Ophthalmology.

For the current study, researchers tested how often an online symptom checker offered by WebMD generated the correct diagnosis for 42 clinical vignettes similar to situations that patients might describe to doctors in person. They wanted to see how often the symptom checker got the correct diagnosis or at least generated the right diagnosis as one of the top three possible answers. The tests were conducted in late 2017.

Overall, the symptom checker nailed the diagnosis for just 11 of the 42 cases, or only 26 percent of the time. And the correct diagnosis was among the top three possible diagnoses in just 16 cases, or 40 percent of the time. (Reuters)

Published: 16-05-2019 23:26

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