Medical Advice Over The Internet (Benjamin & David)


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Medical Advice Over The Internet (Benjamin & David)

  1. 1. Medical Advice over the Internet What is it? The exponential growth in the accessibility of computers for the population has made the internet a very useful and efficient tool for transmitting information. Nowadays medical aid can be provided via internet by specialized websites which provide patients with professional knowledge in different areas. Expert systems are also commonly used in order to provide users a more personalized assistance. What is an expert system? An expert system is a program containing a series of prompts and queries where users enter information and the system is able to take a decision based on the information entered. Expert systems are able to perform tasks which require professional knowledge in an specific subject, for example in medical experts systems diseases are identified and appropriate diagnosis are performed. Technologies involved: - Websites: o They are specially designed websites which assist users by giving them advice related to health care. Users may look for information related to eating disorders, sleeping disorders, intestinal problems, cardiovascular problems, ADHD, etc. - Online Expert Systems: o In some websites, the user is prompted various questions regarding their symptoms. These sites give diagnosis according to the information entered by the user. According to the diagnosis, the system also recommends which drug to take and the dosage of it.
  2. 2. Examples: The BMI Calculator in The user is prompted to enter his height and weight His Body Mass Index is calculated depending on the information entered Depending on the BMI, a diagnosis is provided, stating whether the patient is Overweight, Obese, Normal or Underweight. Symptom Search The user may type in any symptom he/she is experiencing. E.g.’headache’ The system searches the database for diseases related to the symptom. It then provides the user with option of the diseases he/she may be suffering.
  3. 3. Wrong sites: Some sites are official and legitimate. They provide full and complete information, supported by professionals. Other sites are created by third parties; some of these lack enough professional knowledge to be considered legitimate. The information presented here might not be accurate enough; there is no gua Other websites are hoaxes used only to steal money and information from patients. Issues Positive: There is advice available 24/7 The advice is normally checked by a 'Internet skeptic'. “Judging the quality of legitimate sites can only be done by experts...” this means that the advice that is on the Internet is already checked by a doctor on the legit sites. All the information is available with one click away meaning that you don't have to go to different doctors to get the information; they can just stay in one place. Negatives: The Internet is filled with false, tainted or misleading data. A lot of the non-legit sites look extremely legit so it can be easily confusing whether or not to trust it or not. Expert systems are not always 100% efficient. They don’t consider all possible alternatives, but they base their decision only on inflexible commands. They have no capability of analyzing in a complex and ‘human’ level; they lack intuition, emotions and therefore they are not able to establish a relationship with the patient. If something goes wrong with the assistance provided to the patient (e.g. the patient dies because of ‘medical negligence’), then the issue of ‘who is to blame?’ arises. Possible solutions: Regulations to monitor medical sites can be implemented. Standards and minimum requirements should be set by authorities so that only legitimate sites are published. Websites can be classified depending on how reliable they are. This way, patients will judge at their own criteria and choose which site to.
  4. 4. Examples of sites: - o Contains an expert system which diagnoses diseases in patients by prompting them their symptoms. o Users are able to search for specific drugs and acces reviews about them. This way, patients get informed on what each drugs does and their side-effects. o If Patients don’t remember the name of drugs, they can look for them by entering descriptions such as colour or size. - - o Provides information on various topics; it is not interactive. It just provides general advice. - o Count on consultants actively working, better insight of advice o Rely on advice of external collaborators in public and private areas.