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Why consulting Dr Google first could be a good thing

New research, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, has found consulting ‘Dr Google’ before presenting at the emergency department could improve interactions between patients and their treating physician.

Although patients have not been encouraged to look up their illness or symptoms online, this new study indicates it can be very beneficial - and health care providers should not be concerned this could interfere with treatment.

The study was conducted by means of a survey of 400 adult patients who presented at emergency departments at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne and Austin Health between 1 February and 31 May last year.

Co-author of the study, Dr Anthony Cocco, advises patients to opt for more eputable websites " like the Better Health Channel, or the Royal Children’s Hospital Guidelines". But with that proviso, he says that "[researching beforehand] is helping them to express what they are feeling to the doctors and ask questions so we are able to have an informed discussion."

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