Will Apps Replace Doctors?

While healthcare apps are increasing in number and accuracy, they are still unable to outperform primary care physicians.

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A recent study found that primary care physicians outperformed multiple symptom-checking apps in regards to both the accuracy of the diagnosis and the safety of advice provided.

The study showed that the accuracy of the results varied greatly from one app to the next.

In the wake of COVID-19, many apps were created to help people check their symptoms and in some cases, connect them with a healthcare provider.

Physicians are often able to gather more information than an app. Circumstantial information and medical histories are often beneficial to physicians. However, the study provided both the apps and the physicians with only the following:

  • A patient’s age,
  • A patient’s sex,
  • Previous medical history,
  • Primary complaint,
  • Current symptoms, and
  • information to be provided ‘if asked’ by the app or provider.

The study did not use real patient information.

While apps and the internet can be useful tools to help patients know when to go to a doctor, they can also provide misleading information.

How do you help your patients avoid seeking potentially misleading medical advice from the internet or an app?

Make sure that you are open to different channels of communication.

If you are easily accessible to your patients, they are more likely to reach out directly with their questions.

Many practitioners make use of their own apps to provide quick responses, test results, appointment reminders and more.

The increase in telehealth visits has also encouraged patients to reach out to their providers when they don’t want to go in to a physical office. Some providers find that offering regular telehealth visits greatly benefits their patients.

Some physicians provide newsletters, post-cards or e-mails to patients to alert them of illnesses that are spreading or helpful tips to stay healthy.

Communication with your patients is key.

Comment below and let us know how you communicate with your patients!

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