The Isabel Symptom Checker is a free online service that lets you input symptoms into a program that will then analyze them and send back to you some possible diagnoses. The Isabel Symptom Checker covers about 6,000 diseases and allows you to input an almost infinite number of symptoms in normal language. Isabel does not tell you what your diagnosis is, but rather suggests some diagnostic possibilities based on the symptoms you have entered into the system.
Jason Maude created Isabel after his daughter suffered a near fatal misdiagnosis. HealthCare professionals in the UK and the US have been using the Isabel Diagnosis Checklist System for a number of years; it has only recently been adapted for consumer use. Isabel was the subject of a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled “A Better Online Diagnosis Before the Doctor Visit”.
I was intrigued with the system (I had used a symptom checker in the past with good success) but even more intrigued with the amount of information that it puts in the hands of the patient. In our recent webinar, How to Provide High Quality, Low Cost HealthCare, all panelists were clear on one idea. Patients must be empowered to take care of their own health and participate in their own treatment.
However, if you read the comments on the WSJ article, you will see that quite a few people disagree with offering patients this information. Some feel that doctors should be the only ones to consider using symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis and feel that use of a symptom checker by patients is not only inappropriate but possibly dangerous.
The WSJ article is clear and the Isabel website is clear on the fact that a symptom checker is only an adjunct to a doctor visit and discussion about a possible diagnosis. It is not meant to replace a doctor, only to offer more information to the patient, who is then free to research further if they so desire.
Now watch the video interview:
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