A new study by a team in Australia shows that using Google to look up diagnoses is helpful to doctors when faced with difficult cases.
The researchers used Google to search with three to five symptoms in 26 cases, to see how often the correct diagnosis came up. They recorded the first three different answers in the search results, and found that in 15 cases, Google came up with the right answers.
It found obscure conditions including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Cushing’s syndrome, and Churg-Straus syndrome.
Although the authors call Google a “useful aid”, critics in the UK have cautioned that it’s not a replacement for doctors.
A correct diagnosis using the search engine still required a “human expert” to carry out the search, and therefore a patient wouldn’t necessarily be able to self-diagnose. Analysts also pointed out that while some websites are known to be reliable, others, of course, are not, so a lot of rubbish must be sorted through.