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Paging Dr. Google!

It has always been thought that advances in technology, when applied to business, more often than not meant massive losses in jobs. The introduction of robots in the automotive assembly world did make for faster, more cost effective measures, but also did mean a massive cut in the job force.

The introduction of ABM machines was fought for some time as bank tellers felt that this would be a methodical end to their jobs. We know now that this was not the case.

However, there is one advancement with the potential to do much more harm than good. The medical field is one of the fastest growing industries and is one of, if not the main vein for the growth of technology in leaps and bounds, but developers have crossed over and have started making diagnostic tools for patients and not just doctors.

This growing trend, which started out with only the best of intentions, has begun to spiral out of control and has already began to cause severe concerns among medical professionals.

It all started with the popular website WebMD, which was a tool once used by medical professionals to not only keep up to date with medical journals but also as a type of “second opinion” by other professionals who would have not only seen the condition, but also treated it, with or without results.

This tool was made accessible to the public and so the era of self-diagnosis was born. Research in 2011 showed that four in every five persons turn to the web for health information and nearly half of them use Dr. Google to make a self-diagnosis.

Leading GPs say people are presenting to the doctor with fears of major health issues when the real problem is minor, while others put off going to their GPs because they believe their issue is not serious.

Another survey conducted by health insurance provider BUPA also found that of the 80 per cent of Australians who use the net to research health issues, 70 per cent also seek information about medicines. So not only are persons diagnosing themselves but they are also prescribing themselves medication.

And with continuous development of smartphones, many of these developers are now making mobile apps so you can self-diagnose on the go. Some apps even allow persons to take a picture of bumps or hives and have them analysed and then have a treatment and cause sent back to you in seconds.

Others are bit more low tech and are based on symptoms inputted and crossed checked. Atlanta-based A.D.A.M. Inc. has developed a Web application that lets iPhone users punch in health symptoms and find assessments and treatments for what ails them. The company said its A.D.A.M. Symptom Navigator can help consumers understand possible causes of the symptom and medical condition, how to self-treat, when it is an emergency, when they should call a doctor, and how to prevent it in the future.

The data comes from A.D.A.M.’s medically reviewed, evidence-based and accredited health encyclopedia (the largest consumer health libraries in the world.)

So is it just a case of doctors feeling like they are slowly becoming not as important or necessary as before? Or is this really a genuine concern for person’s health and safety? How accurate are these tools, and how much can we trust them? These are all questions that must be answered.

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