Occasionally, grainy black and white movies made in the early 1960s surface on YouTube; movies that attempted to educate the Sputnik-generation in what life would be like in the far-flung times of say, the 1980s, or even in some cases, the unthinkably advanced era of the 1990s. One common theme of our future daily lives, as well as hover cars and complete-meals-in-a-pill, was the personal robot physician. No more work for doctors and surgeons; if we woke up with a headache, or a tummy bug, or even a ruptured spleen, we’d simply hobble over to our robo-doc and get sorted, swiftly and effectively.
Sadly, the robo-doc has yet to materialize; we still have health-care headaches and medical staff still draw substantial paychecks. But, we do have one friend we can count upon to give us medical advice before we take the plunge and visit our local health-care practitioner, and that friend in the internet.
Thousands of sites have sprung up, all of them offering tip-top tips on everything from amnesia to zollinger-ellison syndrome (a rare disorder that causes tumours in the pancreas, since you ask). Many sites offer auto-diagnosis tools where you type in your symptoms and a list of likely illnesses is fired back at you. Others offer to supply you with drugs and medicines at a much cheaper price than you’d buy in pharmacies.
Here are the top ten sites to go to for health-care and medicine advice. Naturally, all advice offered by a web-site – particularly if it sounds as if you may have something significantly wrong with you – must be backed up by that of a qualified health-care practitioner. As a comparison test, if a site had an online symptoms-checker we put “headache, sore throat and gas” in to see what we were suffering from.
Just when you thought the days when Yahoo! came top of anything belonged in the distant online past, the former internet colossus hit the number one spot on our health-care run down. Yahoo! Health in an extensive and informative portal maintained by a range of experts with a focus on maintaining excellent care of yourself through diet, exercise and good practice guidelines. They do have a symptoms-checker, which told us we might have Pharyngitis, an inflammation of the back of the throat.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services, and since 1887 have been nationally responsible for research into all forms of health-related matters. Their site has an impressive list of information regarding all aspects of health, as well as details of how you can help the institute by volunteering for clinical trials. There was no detailed symptoms-checker, but via their MedlinePlus section a range of symptoms were listed, with information about each available.
As close to an actual robo-doc as we could find, WebMD is the best choice if you fancy visiting a virtual, web-based doctor. If you’ve hypochondriac tendencies, there’s even a WebMDmobile app that means you can check your latest batch of symptoms on the go. The symptoms-checker is extensive and asked us sixteen questions before telling us we had indigestion.
Mayo clinic are based in Rochester, Minnesota, and are a non-profit-making medical research group with roots as far back as 1889. The clinic has branches all over the US, and have an online system by which you can find the doctor closest to you and arrange an appointment. Their symptoms-checker was arranged in the form of a series of check-boxes, and we couldn’t find how to combine symptoms. Upon completion, we were told we could have anything from a tension headache to a brain tumor.
Founded in 2002 by Benjamin Wolin and Michael Keriakos, within a decade Everyday Health had amassed almost 30 million unique viewers every month, and gathered over $100 million dollars in annual revenue. The site contains an all-encompassing directory of all aspects of health, plug a detailed glossary of drugs and medicines. Their symptoms-checker featured repeated video clips of a real doctor, who asked us loads of questions before telling us we had influenza, and should see a real doctor within 24 hours.
Medicine net assured us that every piece of information written on their site was created by real and qualified doctors. Their information seemed precise and up to date, and you could take quizzes to test your own medical knowledge. Their symptoms-checker was exactly the same as the one at WebMD.
Health Grades is to doctors as TripAdvisor is to hotels. You simply type in your location, and up pops a list of specialists near to you with experience in everything from allergies to urology. Once you selected your specific medical need, doctors are listed in order of the grading’s they have received from patients they have treated and who have completed an on-site survey. The site has no symptoms-checker.
Easily the number one drugs and medicines resource on the web, this site will tell you all you need to know about the treatments you may have been prescribed. If you find some ancients pills at the back of your medicine chest, you can even use the site’s pill identifier to find out what they are. Their symptoms-checker simply told us to seek immediate medical evaluation.
MedHelp was founded in Florida, in 1994, and really was the pioneer when it came to consumer health information on the internet. The site offers a number of apps, both online and mobile, and is home to a large community of health-based practitioners. No symptoms-checker, though.
Prevention focuses on preventing health issues, rather than solving them. It attempts to guide you through all aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including weight loss and fitness with hundreds of health-based articles. Again, no-symptoms checker.