Smartphones are great. They give us directions when we are lost and keep us connected to our friends and family. It’s great having information at our fingertips at all times, but sometimes things can get carried away. Sometimes patients get the sniffles and the first thing they do is Google their symptoms to find out whether they are really dying of nose cancer. As it turns out, that’s really not so helpful after all for the patient or for the healthcare provider.
The problem with Googling symptoms instead of seeing a doctor is that patients don’t always know which sources are trustworthy. It’s really easy to get caught in a marketer’s trap to sell them the next miracle cure from the rainforest. Googling can be done responsibly if patients are using the search results to learn about a diagnosis they have already received from a doctor in order to have better care outcomes. But cyberchondria is becoming a real problem. Nearly a quarter of web searches for “headache” pointed to brain tumors as the cause, while brain tumors only occur in 0.002% of people. Too much information not taken into context can lead to unnecessary fear and anxiety. Learn more about how to steer patients away from falling into the cyberchondria trap from this infographic!