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December 19, 2012

Symptom Checkers- empowering patients and saving lives


Some interesting industry surveys have appeared over the last few days which have all confirmed the on going revolution that is the ‘consumerization’ or ‘democratization’ of healthcare.

Philips Healthcare commissioned a survey that showed that 1 in 10 people believe that online health information actually saved their lives. This is an amazing figure and takes a while to sink in and consider the implications.

The survey found that 41% of Americans are familiar with symptom checker websites and are also comfortable using them.  This may come as a surprise to many doctors and healthcare institutions that worry whether patients will get unduly alarmed using these tools. It seems that the public is taking to them very quickly!

The survey also found 25% of respondents said that they trust these symptom checker websites as much as their doctor and often use them instead of going to see their doctor. This finding matches a recent survey of consumers conducted in the UK by Isabel Healthcare that showed 30% of the respondents look first at the Internet when they have a medical problem!  They turn to their family and friends second and then to their doctor. As online tools improve these figures are only likely to grow.

 A recent Wolters Kluwer Health survey showed:

  •  80% of Americans believe that this ‘consumerization’ of health is good for America.
  •  76% were now prepared to make more proactive decisions about their healthcare, although this was more around researching providers and treatment options rather than diagnosis.
  •  86% felt that taking a proactive role in managing their own healthcare was critical to ensuring a better quality of care

The message is clear; there is a huge appetite for consumers to take more control of and become empowered and engaged in their own healthcare decisions.This process will continue to accelerate as the online  tools, such as symptom checkers, continue to improve. The healthcare industry needs to be planning how it will operate in this new era.


For Patients Go to Symptom Checker
Jason Maude

Jason Maude

Jason is the CEO and Co-founder of Isabel. Prior to co-founding Isabel, Jason spent 12 years working in finance and investment banking across Europe. His daughter, Isabel, fell seriously ill following a misdiagnosis in 1999 and this experience inspired Jason to abandon his city career and create Isabel Healthcare Ltd.


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