Are You Losing Patient Engagement With A Bad Symptom Checker?

using symptom checker

The democratizing of healthcare and health information through technology means opportunities for great innovation and improved efficiency. It also introduces new challenges for engaging patients. Using the right kind of healthcare software is crucial to maximizing care and minimizing costs.

For example, almost everyone has used an internet website or health app such as WebMD, ShareCare , Healthline, HealthTap, Mayo Clinic to look up their symptoms.  In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 5 searches is symptom related.  Let’s look at a few more stats:

  • A recent Pew Research Survey showed that 35% of adults go online to figure out a medical condition (over half then followed up with a medical professional)
  • The average American will spend over 50 hours on the internet looking for health information
  • According to data from an Accenture Survey, 57% of respondents were using websites for health information and symptom navigator apps/websites accounted for 36% of use

Online Symptom Checker Problems

However, the problem is that patients using symptom checkers often end up with bad or incomplete information or they use inefficient sites and they leave frustrated by the user experience.  These are  lost opportunities to fully engage a patient if you are trying to manage a patient population and create stickiness to your brand.  It’s also a missed opportunity  to get a patient to the correct care setting within the organization.  Patients that end up in the wrong care setting contribute to inappropriate Emergency Department (ED) visits and add cost for all involved including healthcare organizations, employers, payers, etc.

Efficient and clinically robust entry points of the patient journey are critical to ensuring patients are eligible to be seen in alternative care settings like telehealth.  It is also essential that the journey be cohesive for the patient. Even little things like having a common look and feel/user interface will make the experience that much more appealing and engaging.

The Right Tools Can Make Online Health More Efficient

Tools like the Isabel Symptom Checker and the embedded triage tool can assist the patient,not only in understanding their symptoms but also in determining the correct care setting – whether it’s an  e-visit or an in-person visit.  The Isabel Symptom Checker is the most accurate tool available and is based on the Isabel differential diagnosis generator tool used by medical professionals around the world to assist with differential diagnosis.  The tool is broad, covering over 3700 diseases.  In addition there are over 20 peer reviewed articles written on the efficacy and accuracy of the database.

Equally important is the Isabel tool is available for inclusion into various workflows to engage patients via a robust API.  This allows the tool to be embedded and completely branded into other tool kits, patient portals, patient experience workflows, telehealth workflows, etc.   

Getting Data To the Right Place At the Right Time

The efficiencies this can bring to both patient and provider can make a huge difference in helping patients get the right kind of care in a timely manner. Consider the multiple points of  entry into the system: the patient entering their symptoms, the patient answering a few triage questions, the patient starting a telehealth session.  Now consider that information not only being used for getting the patient to the correct care setting like a telehealth session but then also having that information immediately available to the physician when the visit starts. Now that’s powerful online patient engagement!

About the Author

Donald H. Bauman, Jr. is the CEO of Isabel Healthcare USA  and a board member of Better Day Health, an innovative EMR company. Mr. Bauman brings over 30 years of experience in healthcare software sales and marketing activities with early stage companies. Mr. Bauman joined Isabel in April 2010. Learn more about how Isabel empowers diagnosis decisions for providers and patients:


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