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Saturday, October 7, 2017

8 things to know about online symptom checker applications

I checked out a few of these and at best they generate a "differential diagnosis." The differential diagnosis is the short list of diagnostic considerations your doctor develops after taking your history and performing a physical exam. The differential diagnosis is rank ordered from most likely to least. The list may be further refined or rank ordered based on testing results, clinical course or response to offered therapy. These programs were pretty good at generating a differential diagnosis (list) but had shortcomings with rank ordering. One even advised going to the ER for symptom of "out of breath" without requesting associated symptoms (which your doctor would do). Perhaps I was out of breath because I was exercising or I had swelling of my legs from chronic heart failure or perhaps I had been out of breath for years due to chronic emphysema, but the symptom checker didn't ask--it simply said to go to the ER.
from Rajesh Harrykissoon, MD

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