HEALTH

New WebMD Symptom Checker empowers self care

BY Michael Johnsen

WebMD on Thursday launched a new version of its iconic WebMD Symptom Checker. The tool, introduced in 2005, has been completely redesigned with an emphasis on providing a better user experience and more accurate results.

“The WebMD Symptom Checker is our flagship tool that consumers turn to each month for information on their health concerns,” Steven L. Zatz, CEO WebMD, said. “Our redesign reflects our commitment to continually improving the experience of consumers when seeking answers to their health questions. We take very seriously our role in the consumer healthcare experience, and we have enhanced the tool to deliver the most accurate results possible.”

More than 75 million people visit WebMD every month for the latest health information, news and trends, and millions of them use WebMD’s Symptom Checker to research symptoms and learn about possible conditions so they are better informed and more confident about what to do next.

The new WebMD Symptom Checker features a revamped user interface designed to provide consumers with a simple and seamless experience powered by a professional-grade diagnostic engine used by physicians to support their point-of-care decisions. WebMD has made this possible by mapping clinical symptomology and diagnoses into easy-to-understand language that will be accessible to millions of users. The new Symptom Checker features three times more symptoms and potential conditions than the previous version.

It is anticipated that these changes will resonate with millions of users.

Additionally, WebMD has evolved the interface so that visitors can simply type in how and what they are feeling, rather than trying to connect specific areas of the body to specific ailments – a process that consumers indicated was a challenge when their symptoms were generalized, for example, in the case of body aches, chills or fever.

Once a user has typed in their symptoms and other relevant information, including medical history and medications, the Symptom Checker generates a list of potential conditions that are ordered and rated based on the strength of the correlation between the particular condition and the information provided by the user. The tool is integrated with WebMD’s Physician Directory to help WebMD visitors find the care they need to address their health issues.

The Symptom Checker was redesigned based on feedback from WebMD users, medical experts, and leading academics and researchers. Additionally, a major impetus for the redesign was a 2015 article in the British Medical Journal about a study evaluating the accuracy of several symptom checker tools. WebMD has attempted to address issues raised in the BMJ article to provide consumers with an accurate and useful symptom checker experience.

“Providing accurate, trustworthy medical information is our core mission,” Michael Smith, medical director WebMD, said. “We are confident that this completely redesigned Symptom Checker will empower users with even more personalized and helpful information than ever before, while making it easy for them to connect with a health care professional to get the medical care they need.”

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