Study: Checking in with Dr. Google may actually be a good thing

Lynne Adkins
March 04, 2019 - 4:00 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — We all use Dr. Google to look up ailments and illnesses, and researchers are finding that it's not such a bad habit. 

The number of Google searches jumped by double digits the week before a person ended up in the emergency room, according to Jeremy Asch, an innovation strategist in the Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health.

His research shows that patients searched symptoms, then decided it was time to seek professional help. The study also looked at what words are searched, for example, walnut and fibrous tumor.

"The patient had a clinic visit and was told he had a fibrous tumor the size of a walnut, and that kind of sparked some interest in us seeing how are we communicating to our patients and what are the questions that we feel are being left out, and what did the patient really want to know about their care that we weren't answering," Asch said. 

He also looked at out what people were researching after medical appointments, and discovered that some doctors need to explain things more clearly so patients don't have to turn to Google to understand what their physician said.

Asch says this information could help doctors better understand how to talk to patients.