What you usually do when you suddenly feel unwell, for example when you experience sudden abdominal pain? Do you immediately call your doctor, blame the food you ate hoping you'd fell better soon, or type your symptoms into search engine looking for the possible causes?
Most people usually don't run to the hospital right away, but rather search for possible causes online. While using online symptom checkers isn't the most ideal thing to do, mostly because it could lead you to make false conclusions about your health, delay urgent care, or induce anxiety, especially in hypochondriacs, it could be useful way that may give you a hint about possible causes and the severity of the symptoms, as well as to cut down on unnecessary doctor visits.
One of the best known online symptom checkers is provided by WebMD website, allowing patients to easily look up for various symptoms for different body parts.
They went one step further by bringing their symptom checker to mobile devices for easier access and use. This mobile app is named WebMD – Trusted Health and Wellness Information on iPhone and iPad, and simply WebMD for Android on mobile devices that are powered by popular open-source software.
WebMD medical app is basically a companion to the WebMD website that is aimed at the patients, helping them check their symptoms and find comprehensive information on medical conditions, drugs, and a variety of other medical and lifestyle topics. However, the app can be also used by medical professionals as a decision-making support tool.
Just like the rest of online and mobile-based symptom checkers, WebMD app is not a substitute for an official doctor visit. It should be used only in informational and educational purposes.
Upon starting it, the app would list all the features on the main screen, including Symptom Checker, Medication Reminders, Conditions, Medicine, First Aid, Local Health Listings, etc.
The Symptom Checker is the most popular and the best known WebMD's feature. It is designed in same way as the online symptom checker on their website, i.e. it features male and female body that patients can use to look up the symptoms.
Before you can use the Symptom Checker, the app will require you to provide your ZIP, age and sex. The male or female body figure would appear, depending on the sex you've chosen. To look up the symptoms, just tap on the area of the body.
The app will provide you with a list of symptoms for that area (for example the abdomen). Tap on any symptom that is closest match to yours, and the app will help you refine it by taking you through the set of additional questions.
Once you've provided all the information, the app will let you view all possible conditions related to your symptom(s). By tapping on the conditions, you'd get more information including symptoms, overview, what make it worse, course of treatment, tips on self-care, etc.
You can also check back pain. Simply tap on Flip icon and the body figure would rotate 180 degrees, allowing you to find out more about what could be causing that back pain of yours.
You can also check symptoms by having them listed instead of the body view, which might actually work faster.
The Symptom Checker is easy to use and it provides quick information on the go. However, just like any other online or mobile symptom checker, it shows too many related conditions, which may confuse the patients. They can't actually rely on this information, but they should rather talk to their doctor.
Medication Reminders is another highlight feature of WebMD app that allows patients stay adherent to their medication regimen by adding daily reminders. Adding drugs is as simple as tapping on plus sign, which allows you to select drug by searching the large database really quickly thanks to the search feature with auto-complete option.
You can add doses and reminder times, medication images by taking the photo or selecting one from your phone's library, as well as refill reminders.
Conditions section contains information about various conditions, listed on a fairly extensive list that can be viewed alphabetically or by top searches. Information provided includes condition overview, causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Medicine section is another great section that allows users look up information about various drugs, including description of the drug, side effects, interactions with other drugs, symptoms of overdose, etc.
Again, similar to Conditions section, you can search for drugs alphabetically or by top searcher drugs. This section also includes Pill ID tool that help you identify medications by their visual characteristics, i.e. the shape, color, and imprint.
First Aid section helps users get more information on how to respond to urgent situations and symptoms in adults and children, including allergic reactions, chest pain, fractures, dehydration, and many other conditions from the huge list. Each of these situations and conditions has a warning indicating when to call 911.
The app also includes Local Health Listings allowing users to find physician, hospital, pharmacy or insurance from several directories based on user's location. The patients can refill their prescriptions or transfer from their pharmacy, which is connected to Wallgreens and utilizes phone camera, allowing users to scan bar code on their medication package
WebMD is primarily designed for patients; however healthcare professionals may find it useful as well, particularly Medical Terms and Test & Procedures sections that provide useful information for both patients and providers.
The design of the app is very clean with pleasant color palette. Buttons and menus that are easy to select and everything loads quickly. The app is free to download and use, but it feature ads that are placed at the bottom and don't ruin the user experience.
It is possible to personalize the app through the Healthy Living feature, but it requires users to sign up for a WebMD account. If you don't mind this, you can create custom lists of drugs you use, conditions you monitor, and medical articles that may interest you.
Having WebMD account also allows you to enroll in health improvement program called Healthy Target, or to find and create healthy recipes.
Overall, the WebMD app is amazing tool that provides almost everything for everyone, from easy-to-use symptom checker and medication reminders, to comprehensive medical and drug information, and personalized health and lifestyle resources. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs comprehensive medical app.
Benefit: Patients who need all-in-one app with symptom checker, medication reminders, and comprehensive medical and drug information should download the app. Medical professionals could also find it very useful.