The web search engine Google can help health care professionals diagnose difficult cases, according to new study.
Australian researchers looked at how accurate Google, was atmatching symptoms and signs to conditions with 26 difficult-to-diagnose cases published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2005.
They selected three to five search terms from each case and did a Google search while blind to the correct diagnoses. Theythen selected the three diagnoses that were ranked most prominently and seemed to fit the symptoms and signs and compared the results with the correct diagnoses as published in the journal.
Findings show that Google searches fing the correct diagnosis in 58% of cases including conditions such as Cushing's syndrome and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
The authors suggest that Google could be a useful aid for conditions with unique symptoms and signs that can be used as search terms. But, they stress that the success of the search and the usefulness of the retrieved information depend on the knowledge base of the searcher.
British Medical Journal (2006). Online Publication. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.39003.640567.AE