Digital Docs: Rating Health Apps One Click at a Time

By Laura E. Grekoski
Life post-college was chock full of adult-like behaviors. I found full-time employment at a Fortune 500 company, purchased a safer car and enrolled in a 401(k). The road to adulthood is bumpy – there are things we know how to do and others we learn along the way. At age 28, I was forced to find a primary care physician. Up until that point I considered WebMD my primary care physician.

Like most Internet physicians, WebMD was there for me day or night. The minute I had an ailment, I immediately rushed to WebMD, searched my symptoms and prepared myself for my impending doom when my search of the site concluded that I had a rare disease. I prepared my family for the potential adversities I would face based on medical information I’ve found on the Internet.

From WebMD to iTriage, there are numerous sites that will allow you to describe your symptoms to receive a list of potential diagnoses. Each condition is often worse than the next, and instead of resting, you’re left wondering who will feed the cat once you’re gone.
These websites are meant to serve as tools for when you know something is wrong, but can’t figure out if it warrants aspirin or immediate attention from a trained medical professional. Knowing which site to go to is just as difficult as finding an actual primary care physician. The following is a ranking from best to worst and provides an overview of the pros and cons to help you find the best web doctor for you.

Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a well-respected and trusted resource for medical issues. I use the website primarily for health news and occasionally to check on symptoms.  Initially, you feel as if you are being inundated with a lot of information but the easy navigation helps to weed through the vast array information.

The Overview: While it isn’t scientifically proven, most people diagnosing themselves via the Internet are often scared into thinking they have a condition more severe than they actually do. Mayo Clinic eliminates that possibility by never giving broad, general symptoms, like fatigue. The “Related Factor” section of the symptom checker was a huge selling point, which is why I recommend this site over the others.
The Good: The symptom checker is broken down into three easy steps: choose a symptom, select related factors and view possible causes. The site lets you choose from adult symptoms or child symptoms, which is great for parents. When you get to the second step, you can choose potential factors that contribute to your current condition. Once you enter the information, you are given possible causes. No name, number or email address is needed to get this information.
The Bad: Finding the symptom checker wasn’t as easy as their three easy steps. The homepage had a lot of information on it but wasn’t as crowded as WebMD.

iTriage
iTriage isn’t as popular as WebMD but this site is excellent for those who are more visual. Pictures allow you to navigate the site easily, from symptom checker to finding a facility in your local area.

The Overview: Are you a student, parent or professional constantly on the go with little time to sit at a computer and search for possible causes of your current aliment? If so, this is a great site for you. Whether you are in class, cheering on your child at a game or heading to work, this site is simple and quick to navigate.
The Good: The best part of iTriage is how easily you can navigate the site on a desktop and especially on a cell phone. If you are a visual person and prefer pictures over a lot of words, this is the site for you. From finding health facilities to reading up on health news, this site leaves you feeling the same way patients at eMedical Urgent Care feel – great service without the long wait. You can also track your medications and doctors’ appointments on the site.
The Bad: You search your symptoms by either using an avatar or choosing from a list of symptoms. By not having a search bar that would allow you to easily search a specific symptom, you must click on a section of the body and choose the closest symptom to get you to possible conditions.

WebMD  
WebMD was my go-to virtual doctor. Now, just navigating the website can give me a headache. It is content overload.
The Overview: One of the benefits of WebMD when it initially became popular was how easy it was to navigate the site and how simply the website’s writers broke down the symptoms, causes and treatment of each aliment. Now there is too much content and navigating that if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be quite a time-consuming process.
The Good: WebMD allows you to search for hospitals, pharmacies and physicians in your area. A one stop shop for your healthcare needs, you can even search pre-existing conditions. That site is really interactive and allows users to email articles, take quizzes and follow WebMD on social media.
The Bad: There is entirely too much content to the point that even the greatest lover of words is left wanting to break up with this site. It is overwhelming and difficult to navigate. Unlike other sites, you are required to enter your email address to check for your specific symptoms, which means more junk mail in your inbox.

From the womb to the tomb, we are going to need physicians to help keep us healthy. These online resources are not meant to replace treatment from an actual physician. For the things aspirin can’t cure, you can feel better knowing eMedical Urgent Care is here.

Laura E. Grekoski, Marketing Associate, joined eMedical Urgent Care in 2013. Prior to joining eMedical Urgent Care, Ms. Grekoski worked as a freelance publicist for The Carmichael Group while working full-time at Merrill Lynch as a senior operations representative.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and minor in journalism from Rowan University, Glassboro, N.J. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, New Jersey Young Professionals and Toastmasters International.

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