Doctor explains why it can be helpful for patients to Google self-diagnose in viral TikTok

He explains: 'It might be accurate, and might be something I didn’t consider'

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Monday 08 February 2021 15:08
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Tik Tok doctor explains why it's good to Google self-diagnose
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A doctor has explained why he encourages patients to share any self-diagnoses they have come up with by Googling their symptoms, explaining that it can help him with his diagnosis and allows people to leave feeling that their concerns were heard. 

The primary care doctor, who is based in Chicago, Illinois, and goes by the username @ThatGayDoctor, discussed the habit of Googling symptoms and illnesses on his TikTok, where he has more than 355,000 followers. 

In a video posted this week titled: “Coming up with the diagnosis”, which has since been viewed more than 1.4 million times, he explains that one of his favourite questions to ask patients at their appointment is: “What do you think is wrong? What do you think the diagnosis is?”

“If you’re a Googler, and you have a certain idea in your head about what might be wrong, I want to know that,” he explained, adding that one of the reasons is because it might be accurate. 

“The reason I want to know is because it might be accurate, and might be something I didn’t consider,” he continued. “I also probably know a decent amount about that topic and I can tell you what tests we have to order to either rule in or rule it out.”

According to the doctor, even if the self-diagnosis is “completely off base”, it gives him and the patient an opportunity to talk about why it’s probably not that diagnosis as well as “ways that we know that”.

The medical professional also acknowledged the importance of patients feeling that their concerns are heard by their doctor, with him telling his viewers: “I don’t want you leaving thinking: ‘Ugh I’m worried it is still this.’

@thatgaydoctor

A lot of times, the patient’s answer is the same as what’s in my head! I love hearing the patient’s insight ##doctor ##patient ##partnership

♬ original sound - thatgaydoctor

“Tell me! I can’t read your mind,” he said, adding: “You know yourself and have a lot of insight into what could possibly be wrong. You might not be right 100 per cent of the time, just like I’m not, but we can talk about it and come up with a plan together.”

The TikTok was met with thousands of comments, with many of the doctor’s followers thanking him for taking the time to address the concerns of his patients. 

“Omg this generation of doctors is a blessing,” one person wrote. “As a chronic illness patient who was misdiagnosed and not listened to for 10-plus years – thank you.”

Another person said: “As someone with anxiety who self-diagnoses a lot, I would love you as my doctor. This is so validating and helpful.”

“This is incredible, I’ve never had an experience with a doctor like this,” someone else commented.

However, the doctor also explained in the comments that that does not necessarily mean he encourages patients to Google their symptoms, as the results are often “very misleading and make people think the worst”.

As for the overwhelmingly positive response to the video, the 29-year-old told BuzzFeed that it makes him “feel like I’m really making a difference”.

“I know a lot of medical students follow my accounts, so I hope they embody some of the approaches that I suggest in their future practices,” he said, adding: “I also hope it makes people feel like medical professionals can be approachable, lovable, funny humans, and that going to the doctor doesn't have to be a scary experience!"

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