“I read it on the Internet so it must be true?” Online medical self-diagnosis is on the rise and it’s a slippery slope to tackle. While there are a number of credible sources on the internet, there are just as many sites containing inaccurate or misleading information. Health insurance broker, Bloom and leading medical partner, Momentum Health4Me remind us that medical diagnosis is an area best left to professionals, which is why the brand introduced the Hello Doctor online healthcare service. Find out more about online diagnosis and how you can use the Hello Doctor benefit.
What is online self-diagnosis and why is it dangerous?
Online self-diagnosis is the practice of reading about medical conditions or symptoms online so that the user can make a medical diagnosis for themselves (and adopt a treatment plan), often without consulting a medical health professional. The problem with online medical content is that it often provides information about diseases and symptoms that can be confusing to a non-medical user, which could lead one to exaggerate their condition or misinterpret the findings. This in turn leads to misdiagnosis. The user might then engage in the incorrect treatment plan by using medication they don’t need or that won’t help their condition. For instance, an anxious mom might misdiagnose her child’s common cold as a serious case of influenza and then embark on a course of unnecessary antibiotics.
Why do people self diagnose from online medical content?
People tend to self-diagnose because the information is so readily available – at their fingertips. We’ve become an always-on society that craves real-time information at the touch of a button. When faced with a deluge of information, people often become convinced that they have a certain condition or disease. A similar phenomenon has occurred in the past, which is now known as Medical Students Disease Syndrome where second and third-year medical students became convinced they had were afflicted by the diseases or conditions they were currently studying. The term now used to describe society’s growing compulsion to devour online medical content and self-diagnose, often incorrectly, is called cyberchondria. In fact, in extreme cases, it’s even considered an addiction with addicts being referred to as cyberchondriacs. Some of their symptoms include:
- Constantly checking online medical symptoms 2-3 times per day
- Becoming convinced they’re afflicted with several different types of serious diseases or conditions
- Becoming even more anxious after having read the online medical information and forming their own self-diagnosis
What you should be doing to avoid a misdiagnosis online
There are a number of things you can do to ensure that you’re getting the correct information and coming to a logical conclusion. Some of the top tips include:
- Use information from a credible source. Don’t rely on random blogs or conspiracy theory sites. Likewise, don’t use the advice offered in your favourite lifestyle magazine to make a diagnosis. Stick with sources whose primary focus is to offer credible medical information.
- When evaluating the credibility of medical information, it’s advisable to trust the information that is affiliated with a professional healthcare brand or business. For instance, Hello Doctor is the preferred online health information source for Momentum Health4Me, one of South Africa’s best health insurance providers.
- Look for information that has been reviewed by a relevant healthcare professional, like a doctor, specialist, registered nurse or physiotherapist etc.
- When in doubt, visit your local GP for a confirmed diagnosis. Remember: a misdiagnosis is just as dangerous as ignoring a health condition. If you feel bombarded with online information overload, make an appointment with a healthcare professional.
Benefits of Momentum Hello Doctor
Health insurance providers are sensitive to the fact that people often don’t have the time or the financial resources to consult the doctor every time they’re feeling under the weather, which is why the Hello Doctor benefit evolved. Let’s unpack this superb online value-added service in more detail.
Hello Doctor is a free medical healthcare teleservice that is available for Momentum Health4Me health insurance members. Users can get the right medical advice from qualified doctors and healthcare professionals in real-time without having to attend a physical consultation, which is especially convenient during this time of lockdown and social distancing. The way it works is twofold: a user can either phone and request a doctor callback or send an SMS for a text answer. The turnaround time for a response is one hour and the Hello Doctor App specialises in the areas of health education and direct doctor access.
Get health insurance and online medical information services
Why risk an incorrect medical diagnosis when you have the opportunity to make use of a credible online source for unlimited medical-related queries? Bloom and Momentum Health4Me are confident in the ability of Hello Doctor to provide our members with the correct medical information online.
Get affordable health insurance cover with Bloom. Contact our offices to speak to a health insurance consultant to discuss our Health4Me health insurance plans.
Medical Content Disclaimer
You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.