Only 33% Diagnoses Of Health Checker Apps Are Accurate, Don't Trust Them!

Dhir Acharya - May 19, 2020


Only 33% Diagnoses Of Health Checker Apps Are Accurate, Don't Trust Them!

According to a new study by scientists in Australia, symptom checker apps diagnose a person’s illness correctly only 33% of the time.

Many of you may have been using the internet in diagnosing your health concern, but that’s not really effective. According to a new study by scientists in Australia, symptom checker apps diagnose a person’s illness correctly only 33% of the time. The study involves testing 27 symptom checker apps. On the other hand, apps that tell a person if they need urgent medical care performed better.

Symptom checker apps
Symptom checker apps are not really effective in diagnosing your illness

The researchers tested popular free symptom checker apps from around the world, including WebMD, Mayo Clinic, and Drugs.com. While many of these apps are available on the Google Play Store and the App Store, others are spotted on hospitals and medical centers’ websites, even Johns Hopkins. Some of them also tell users if and how much medical attention they need based on their symptoms.

In their testing, the authors ran the apps through 48 different vignettes of patients, 30 of those were used for a previous study of symptom checkers back in 2015. The illnesses in the stories vary from life-threatening to short-lasting or easy-to-treat. They conducted over 1,000 individual tests of these apps to see whether they had the right diagnosis and more than 600 tests to see if the apps urged the correct level of triage care.

Mayo Clinic is among the tested apps
Mayo Clinic is among the tested apps

On average, the apps had the correct diagnosis as the first possible option 36% of the time. The rate is higher, at 52%, regarding the top three choices. But when expanding to the 10 most possible options, the rate could only go up to 58%. None of the apps did considerably better than the others while some performed much worse. On average, the accuracy of these symptom checker apps was between 12% and 61%.

The 2015 study found that these apps weren’t really accurate either, with an average accuracy rate of 34%. It seems that their accuracy hasn’t been improved much over the years. Michella Hill, the lead author of the study, said:

“While it may be tempting to use these tools to find out what may be causing your symptoms, most of the time they are unreliable at best and can be dangerous at worst.”

You should not trust these apps entirely
You should not trust these apps entirely

However, there’s some useful information from the study too. It appears that AI-powered apps performed better, but not exceeding 50%. Also, apps with triage advice worked better at that function, from 44% to 54%. The accuracy was higher in terms of conditions that required emergency (63%) or urgent care (56%).

As the COVID-19 pandemic is still making the world miserable, symptom checker apps have arisen as a tool for diagnosing at home. However, they are not that accurate, not you’d better be careful.

>>> Bangalore-Based Engineer Hacked Aarogya Setu App To Appear Safe At All Times

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