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Here's what Google said before the hospital visit



Image: Don Ryan (AP)

Accepting medical help in this country is often not an easy task, especially given rising health care costs. It should come as no surprise, then, that many people in need of emergency care first refer to Drs. Contact Google for advice, according to a new study released Thursday.

The study found that more than half of the patients who visited a physician emergency center and were willing to exchange their Google search history the week before their visit for information about their health problems.

From March 201

6 to 2017, the University of Pennsylvania-based authors of the study surveyed more than 700 patients who visited a nearby emergency department if they had a Google Account. About 300 of them said they did. And in what may be the most shocking part of the study, 119 people said they were just smart and were a few doctors banging their way through the likely hot trash that was their search history. Those who had immediate life-threatening injuries (such as a gunshot wound) or were under the age of 18 were excluded so the team was eventually burdened with 103 patients whose medical history allowed them to read.

Of these patients, 53 percent made search queries directly related to their reported health problems sometime during the last seven days prior to their visit. These searches typically involved finding information about their symptoms or identifying the exact illness they might have had. Fifteen percent of patients also sought information about emergency rooms or hospitals, such as For example, the address of the nearest. Overall, Google has doubled health-related information the week before the visit, compared to the usual search habits.

The results of the study were published in BMJ Open.

"Although we are still at an early stage From this research, we learned a lot about the questions that patients face before they decide to visit an emergency room, as well as questions they ask about their treatment after their visit "said lead author Jeremy Asch, a researcher at the Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health University in a statement.

Asch and other researchers in his field have long sought to use our digital stories as an indirect method to study people's health attitudes or behavior. Some research even suggests that Twitter and other social networks could be used to predict outbreaks such as the flu, before they are easily recognized. However, social media posts are inherently an imperfect clue to what's really in people's minds as they're supposed to be seen by others.

The current study, according to the authors, is the first in which the Internet searches are linked by and people are taking the medical history that they hope will provide more accurate predictions or insights into people's understanding of health issues gives. For example, a patient googled, "How big is a walnut?" And then, "What is a fibrous tumor?". A look at their records showed that the patient had previously been told by a doctor that he had a "walnut-sized fibrous tumor. "

" The doctor responsible for this patient might have thought that effective communication had taken place, "said Asch. "But if the patient had to look up the two key words" Walnut "and" Fibrous Tumor, "it's obvious that patient communication was not effective enough."

As important as Google has become for our digital journey It's also becoming increasingly obvious to life that it comes with its drawbacks, and that's definitely true of using Google as a doctor. Doctors and some studies have argued that a plethora of confusing information or myths may emerge in search of health-related issues that could affect patients' trust in their physicians. (However, at least one study has shown that Googling before an emergency visit can actually help alleviate patient concerns.) This is nothing like conspiratorially loaded YouTube videos and ads that are just a click away.

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There will be no easy situation to reduce this cranking noise or to make sure that patients and doctors are in sync with one another , The fact that so many patients (in some way!) Were willing to share their Google history is a good sign that we can use this kind of digital information to one day better predict health consumption and knowledge about health to understand. Attitudes and behaviors of more general populations. "

An example of this could be tailor made resource information for people who are looking for serious health issues, much as information on crisis and suicide hotlines can now be displayed when using specific search terms. That said, even these requests could use some fine tuning, so it's not necessarily a perfect idea.

[BMJ Open via University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine]


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