Graihagh Jackson

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Should we be self-diagnosing via the internet? Is democratised medicine the future?

Edward Snowden's revelations have shaken our faith in online privacy. But can we trust Google with our health?

The digital era is going to bring about some phenomenal advances in healthcare but there are going to be massive setbacks too - what about hacking of personal medical devices for instance? Or the problems of using the internet for self-diagnosis? I think that the idea that technology can replace doctor or simulate a genuine doctor-patient relationship is absurd. This is something that is talked about very eloquently in the below debate by a psychiatrist called Mark Salter.

What do you think? Will technology every bypass the need to see a physician? Is the internet the future of medicine and is this a good thing? Can we trust the internet for this purpose?

I think not.

  • Nov 10 2013: To diagnose a psychological problem is probably possible by online interaction. But for diagnosing other physiological disease it is way out of proportion for the patient. First, the doctor has to LOOK and listen to the patient's symptom and other SIGNS of the disease conditions. Then s/he would take a series of tests; some are lab tests, but also some visual or stethoscope tests. Even though there have been some criticism of too much lab tests by the physicians, but still I don't see there will be more effective ways to optimize the number of tests by online diagnoses. More importantly, there are more and more tests that require additional experts to examine the results to confirm what is the root problem for the disease. For many diseases, they need even a conference of physicians to agree on the proper diagnosis. So it would be very difficult to do in online diagnosis. And, on average, it probably would not even be more economically justified either. Furthermore, if you have some kind of POTENTIALLY SERIOUS CONDITIONS, would you like to gamble you life or permanent disability by the so-called online self-diagnosis?
    The privacy problem is secondary to the risk of wrong diagnoses (even though it's possible by physician-made decisions too, but nobody is perfect anyway) which is more likely made by online diagnosis. For the medical data privacy question, I don't think that there is any protection in patient privacy for any country with government managed health insurance anyway. In the U. S., we already have possible data leaks in the health care online enrollment web page even before the program gets started.
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    Dec 7 2013: There is nothing to be completely certain,internet not,neither does the real life. Would you be completely trusting a doctor or a teacher in what he is saying. Thus,I think internet does provide us with a more extensive,more ubiquitous way of exploring the world, discovering the truth. In a word,if we make our judgement based on solider ground, more sophisticated method,our judgement will be closer to reality.
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    Dec 6 2013: I think we can and should, tell me if this Talk changes your opinion.

    Also on a side note, have you heard that WATSON is now diagnosing cancer at a better rate then doctors.
  • Nov 12 2013: In the future, (15 years or less)

    The doctors office will be a call center. There will be mobile medical devices for rent.

    Most medical work will be done on a computer (tablet) or cell device.

    Hospitals will be for physical work such a surgery or emergency situations

    *** This technology already exists and is implemented for testing
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    Nov 11 2013: Graihagh,
    You ask..."can we trust Google with our health?" Personally, no, I do not trust google with my health. The internet can be used as a very valuable tool, and it is wonderful to be able to research health issues. However, I believe in using everything available, which may support good health. It depends on what the issue is....

    For example:
    A few years ago, I had a challenge with my foot....I couldn't walk without pain. A friend noticed that I was limping, and when I told him what I was experiencing, he said that sounds like........plantar fasciitis (sp?)....a common challenge with a tendon in the foot. I went on- line and explored it, treated it for a week, it healed, and I have not had the challenge since then. I found out what caused it....apparently, one of the positions I put myself in while working/playing in the gardens caused it. I don't sit like that anymore in the gardens! LOL:>) That was a simple "fix".

    When my brother was diagnosed with Mesothelioma (lung cancer caused by asbestos) I researched quite extensively on line, got an amazing amount of information and made contacts with knowledgeable people in other parts of the country. He had surgery in Boston by one of the leading researcher/surgeons in the field, and my brother is doing pretty good now.

    Another brother has COPD (lung disease), has visiting nurses at his home a couple times a week. In between regular visits, he gets a computerized call on his phone, and they can check his vital signs every day....I am amazed with the technology, and this seems to be pretty common these days. If his vital signs change, and appear to be challenged, based on the computerized connection, a nurse and/or his doctor are within a short distance. He also has a life line with which he can call for help immediately. These are all valuable tools!

    The internet is a tool, and I use all tools available, starting with practices that support good health:>)
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      Nov 12 2013: It sounds like the internet has been really valuable in your brothers care, especially in vitals feedback and so forth but as you rightly pointed out, your brother still needs to see a doctor regularly. I agree with you 100% - the internet is a tool that supports the healthcare system but shouldn't been seen as the go-to.
  • Nov 9 2013: Healthcare,

    Think about this.
    The costs involved with healthcare are the same whether or not an Insurance company in involved.
    The collected Premiums necessary to pay for healthcare include a large profit for an Insurance company.

    Less collected Premiums means less payments for healthcare providers.
    Less collected Premiums means less large profits for an Insurance company.

    Since we live in a world where our Congressionally Enabled System of Commerce is based upon
    the adage of "You get what you pay for", and "You got what you paid for.", YOU ARE SCREWED.

    Another lesson learned by electing the Congresses and their accompanying Lobbyists.
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    Nov 8 2013: I don't think online "doctors" will replace the real one any time soon.
    Doing a diagnosis of a patient without directly interacting with him, or even worse doing a self diagnosis, might perhaps work for simple ailments, but not for something more complicated. There must be some reason that studying medicine takes that long.
    Maybe in the future we can have devices connecting to our PC that take and analyze blood sample, measure our heart pressure etc and then feed everything into an AI powered databank and finally print out our diagnosis including prescriptions.
  • Nov 7 2013: If diagnosing one's medical problems was truly so simple, the doctors would all be out of a job.
    Seeing as they're not too worried about the state of their employment, neither should you be. You can't just make up for 7 years of med school plus who knows how long of on the job experience with an online search engine.