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General News    H4'ed 12/2/14

New Symptom Checker Puts the World's Medical Knowledge at Your Fingertips!

Message Shirley Braverman

For the first time an app gives the average person access to a highly sophisticated medical-diagnosis tool, much more powerful than previously available. Using the latest searching technologies, the system can take a pattern of symptoms in everyday language and instantly compute, from a vast database of 6,000 diseases, the most likely affliction.

Based on the same system that is relied on by doctors and nurses around the world to help diagnose, it is acknowledged as the clear leader in its field. Having undergone 12 years of development it is built using the latest statistical natural language-searching technologies, which makes it much easier to use, and at the same time it covers many more diseases and provides more accurate results.

Covering over 6,000 diseases Isabel allows you to enter an almost infinite number of symptoms in normal language rather than being forced to enter only the symptom that is included in a list or shown on a drawing of a human body. In addition, you can also include any other chronic conditions you may have such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Isabel, like any symptom checker, will not tell you what your diagnosis is. What it does is suggest diagnostic possibilities based on the symptoms that you have entered into the system.

Isabel is designed to be used when you don't feel confident in the diagnosis made by your doctor. For instance you may have a diagnosis but you are not responding to the treatment and have visited your doctor two or three times for the same complaint. By using Isabel you should be able to ask your doctor to explain why they don't think it could be disease y or z, which have been suggested by the Isabel system and which explain your symptoms very well.

In fact Isabel will change the way you speak to your doctor forever. It will enable you to make sense of the vast amounts of medical knowledge out there and to become better informed so you can work constructively with your doctor to find the right diagnosis as soon as possible.

As Jerome Groopman states in "How Doctors Think", it is a well-known fact that "As many as 15 percent of all diagnoses are inaccurate... a distressingly high rate of misdiagnosis." And as stated by Marianne Genetti, founder of In Need of Diagnosis, INOD, "Autopsies reveal that approximately 40% of diagnoses are incorrect! In two-thirds of those cases, treatment would have been available had the diagnosis been correct."

Groopman points out that doctors -- with the patient's help -- can avoid snap judgments, embrace uncertainty, communicate effectively, and deploy other skills that can profoundly impact your health. Sometimes it is necessary for the patient to force the doctor to become more efficient and depart from the usual algorithm. Isabel can give you information on how to do this.

How Isabel Came About

During the summer of 1999, three-year-old Isabel Maude was diagnosed with chicken pox, a common childhood illness. Her parents, Jason and Charlotte Maude, were told to expect itching and general discomfort, relatively minor side effects that would subside after a short duration. When her fever stayed high and the pox spots turned black they were reassured by their doctors over the phone that all was well.

But she suddenly lost consciousness! Rarities of rarities, her pox sores had become infected with flesh-eating bacteria, necrotising fasciitis. After two months in the hospital, during which time her parents had to deal with the fact that their daughter may not survive and, if she did, would likely suffer brain and other organ damage, Isabel recovered.

For her father, Jason Maude, the near catastrophe changed his life and he found a way to turn the experience into something hopeful and positive. He felt Isabel's intense suffering could have been avoided if her doctors at the local hospital had taken all of her symptoms and clinical signs into account, thinking of all possible diagnoses, rather than just assuming her symptoms were related to the chicken pox. Isabel was misdiagnosed and needlessly suffered as a result. Rather than suing the hospital for the error, Jason teamed up with doctors from the intensive-care unit to develop the Isabel system. Isabel Healthcare was created, in honor of Isabel Maude and all patients whose lives have been impacted by missed or delayed diagnosis, to help clinicians around the world reduce diagnostic errors.

Established originally in 2000 as a charity, it morphed into a for-profit company in 2004 in order to develop and market a system that would cover all age groups and all diseases. It was one of only 3 systems to receive scores of over 90% in an industry survey carried out by KLAS, a leading US rating agency for healthcare IT systems.

Using Isabel

The most important step in using Isabel is the symptoms you enter. Simply try your best to describe the symptoms that are affecting you, entering the most important ones first. Abnormal test results can also be entered if you have a copy of your medical records------ which under Obamacare you are entitled to have.

The suggested diagnoses are not ranked in an order of likelihood for you but on the basis of how well what you entered matches Isabel's database of diseases. From the list you should end up with a short list of 2-3 possibilities that you can then discuss with your doctor.

Isabel is found at: symptomchecker.Isabelhealthcare.com

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Nurse journalists for 60 years. Animal activists -- the sane kind. Author of Animal Rescue Crusaders available on Amazon and Barns and Nobel and The Nurses' Stories

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