Based on a 2019 report of the Google CEO, approximately 7% of searches on Google are health-related. What does it mean? About 6.7 million searches per day, over 70,000 Google searches each second. Even though many health-related contents are present on Google-generated searches, most are not written by medical professionals. They are just informative and are not supposed to generate a diagnosis. Therefore, Dr. Google is not a physician.
Why are patients researching their symptoms on Google?
There are few reasons: convenience, curiosity, lack of access to their doctor, too little time spent with the doctor, or doubt.
First, convenience – it is effortless to open a web browser on your phone, tablet, or laptop and research a symptom or test. You will end up with numerous resources. The question is, who do you trust? What do you know about these resources? Are there any of these website paid advertisements?
Second, curiosity – of course, you want to find an answer before you see a doctor. But again, how many times have you ended up more confused than you started?
Third, lack of access to your doctor – unfortunately, unless your symptoms will drive you to the ER, many times, the access to doctors in the US is restricted. From the time you make the appointment to the time you see the doctor, like a specialist, it takes months and months of waiting. That will increase your stress level, and you will be tempted to find answers and start something that will help your symptoms.
When you get to the doctor, many times the time spent in the office is between 7-12 minutes.
Do you have enough time to relay your story?
Will the doctor have enough time to get a thorough history?
Do you have time to ask your questions?
You waited for months…
It is frustrating, I understand. Is the doctor able to understand my story? Is he able to get to the correct diagnosis? Doubt is normal…
What should you do instead of searching Dr. Google?
Please remember that despite the wealth of knowledge you find on your searches, Dr. Google has no medical degree and does not have any clinical experience.
Dr. Google will never replace a physician, well, not in my lifetime.
Above all, Dr. Google can accentuate your stress level as it will point to some common causes and sporadic and, at times, life-threatening conditions.
We have a solution for our patients…
We offer enough time and direct access to our physician, and your questions will always be answered promptly. If needed, will provide you with many trusted sources where you can supplement your medical understanding. Just ask, and we will be happy to give you the best-known resources.
About the Author
Diana Girnita, MD, PhD is an US board certified internal medicine and rheumatology. She completed a PhD in immunology, postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, immunology fellowship at University of Pittsburgh and rheumatology fellowship at University of Cincinnati. She is the founder&CEO of Rheumatologist OnCall, a telemedicine company that serves multiple states in the US. Dr. Girnita is a graduate of the Nutrition Science course from Stanford University. Dr. Girnita was recognized many times with “Top Doctor” award (2017-2020) and is frequently invited speaker of the US National Arthritis Foundation. Read more