Physicians outperform app-based symptom checkers in diagnostic accuracy

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Physicians outperform app-based symptom checkers in diagnostic accuracy

Many people use Internet or app-based symptom checkers to make self-diagnosis. To understand whether physicians are better at making diagnoses than symptom checkers, researchers at Harvard Medical School conducted a study that included 234 internal medicine physicians. These physicians were asked to analyze 45 clinical cases that involved both common and uncommon conditions with varying degrees of severity. It was found that the doctors made a correct diagnosis more than twice as often as 23 commonly used symptom-checker apps. They even outperformed the apps by stating the correct diagnosis first 72 percent of the time. The researchers also observed that the physicians were more accurate than the apps when it came to diagnosing rare illnesses. However, since physicians made errors in about 15 percent of cases, researchers are of the opinion that computer-based algorithms should be used along with human decision-making to further reduce diagnostic errors.

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Published on: Oct 13, 2016


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