The Accuracy of WebMD Symptom Checker for Diagnosis of COVID-19 in Admitted Patients in Imam Hassan Hospital of Bojnurd


Background: Coronavirus has caused rapid disruption to daily life with significant morbidity and mortality. The infection spreads mainly through respiratory droplets expelled by infected individuals. Several web-based symptom checkers have been used to avoid unnecessary in-person visits during the pandemic. WebMD’s symptom checker contains a course of multiple-choice questions about symptoms. At last, a record of differential diagnoses is assembled.
Methods: This study chose 105 hospitalized patients in the isolation ward. We entered the data about symptoms and comorbidities in the WebMD symptom checker to find the most probable diagnoses proposed by the website for 66 patients whose polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test was positive and investigated the frequency of initial symptoms, present symptoms, and chief complaints.
Results: The average age was 47.41 ± 13.52. Of 66 patients, 23 were correctly diagnosed with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as the first diagnosis with the WebMD symptom checker. In 41 cases, COVID-19 was one of the three main diagnoses. The most common initial symptoms were fever in 24%, sore throat in 12%, and myalgia in 12% of patients. The most common chief complaints were fever in 34% and dyspnea in 28% of patients. The most common present symptoms were myalgia in 81%, fever in 80%, fatigue in 75%, and dyspnea in 72% of patients.
Conclusions:WebMD symptom checkers can act as a first tool first, to diagnose and, second, to avoid in-person physician visits. Moreover, it can be used for the first diagnosis in primary care health organizations. Myalgia can be considered one of the most common present symptoms

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Covid-19, WebMD, Symptom checker, diagnosis

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Forouzanian S, Ghodrati F, Ghafouri M, Taghavi MR, Shokrian Z. The Accuracy of WebMD Symptom Checker for Diagnosis of COVID-19 in Admitted Patients in Imam Hassan Hospital of Bojnurd. Health Tech Ass Act. 2023;6(3).