Meet Doctor Google

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IS internet healthcare the answer for expatriates struggling in an unfamiliar health environment? Will it help or hinder the Costas’ medical services and professionals?

To me sciatica could have been a form of headache like migraine. It was friends who, when told the symptoms suggested sciatica: I Googled the condition; everything fitted and sure enough it was sciatica. In no time at all I had identified the cause of my discomfit and had become something of an expert on the condition; its expected duration and how I might best treat it.

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Armed with this knowledge I arrived at the medical centre where the condition was confirmed. There was little that could be done apart from painkillers and let nature take its course. When would it get better? How long is a piece of string?

Red Faces

The same happened when I contracted rosacea. Again I typed the symptoms in and accessed information, including pictures, on every aspect of the condition. Again this was medically confirmed.

The value of the doctor was in his confirming the condition and the treatment prescribed; though even this too is available online for certain conditions. Again I got better. Interestingly I found the internet better at prognosis, explanation and remedy than was my doctor.

The online healthcare option is especially important for those of us who live in Spain; we are obviously isolated, unfamiliar with healthcare bureaucracy and access, not to mention problems of communication.

I can almost hear my doctor friend tut-tut and warn against misdiagnosis. Perhaps there is a bigger likelihood of that when, with or without an interpreter, whilst you explain your symptoms to your doctor he has his eyes on his watch?

When you approach your computer with your concerns it isn’t that much different from pulling a chair up at your doctor’s desk. You explain your symptoms to Doctor Google. There are in fact scores of e-doctors for you to choose from but my own favourite is http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/. After all; I financed it.

Haemorrhoids or Sciatica?

You will be sitting comfortably, unless you have haemorrhoids or sciatica. There you will find an encyclopaedic explanation of your likely condition and the possible alternatives so you can carry out your own diagnosis. You have all the time in the world, with guidance.

On your screen you will find photographs for making comparisons; a check list just as the doctor will carry out, diagrams and explanations as to the cause. As you might expect there will be explanation for self-treatment and of course you might have to see your doctor for confirmation and appropriate treatment.

In my experience the internet in the field of medicine is an asset already recognised by the NHS and other services. After all, early diagnosis and treatment has to be welcomed.

By Mike Walsh

www.michaelwalsh.es

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