As of today, Patient, the UK's leading independent health information site, launches a new symptom checker developed by Isabel Healthcare. Using state of the art technology, this symptom checker provides patients visiting the site with a reliable research tool when looking online for information about diagnosis which helps them work more effectively with their doctor.
Currently over 16 million people a month visit patient.info to research health conditions. 'Cyberchondria' is on the increase and a new study found 92% of 20-something women diagnose themselves online rather than see a GP. Dr Sarah Brewer, GP says, "Studies have shown that one in four of us misdiagnose ourselves. There's nothing wrong with a little online research but people need to visit trustworthy and reliable sites such as Patient which uses the Isabel Symptom Checker." 
General search engines have not been designed as tools to help with the diagnosis of diseases. The Isabel Symptom Checker is a culmination of 14 years and over 150,000 man-hours of design and development. The search engine of the system uses powerful statistical natural language processing software which is applied to a specially designed medical database of disease presentations.
The Isabel Symptom Checker was initially developed as a tool to help support medical professionals deal with more complex diagnoses or who were in doubt about a particular diagnosis. People are increasingly turning to 'Dr Google' for help and information when they are unable to see a doctor quickly, or are anxious that a serious diagnosis (such as cancer, stroke or sepsis) is being missed.
Clinical Editor of Patient, Dr Hayley Willacy, says: "Isabel Symptom Checker has been integrated into the site because millions of people now go online to check their symptoms before visiting their GP. For the majority of people, discussing your symptoms with a health professional is still the best option, but where this is not possible the Isabel Symptom Checker can assist. The technology has been specifically developed to help suggest common diagnostic possibilities and help patients be more effective with their own research."
Sir Graeme Catto, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Aberdeen and previously the President of the General Medical Council (2002 to 2009) states, "We all turn to the internet when illness strikes. Separating fact from fiction is, however, not straightforward and the information we select may sometimes mislead and make matters worse. Isabel Symptom Checker provides the authoritative and reliable guide we need. I am delighted that Patient has adopted "Isabel" for its website so that we can all access reliable, relevant and accurate information whenever necessary."
Jason Maude, founder of Isabel Healthcare who is behind the Isabel Symptom Checker developed it as a direct result of his own daughter being misdiagnosed fourteen years ago. Jason says: "As medicine become more complex and the shortage of GPs gets worse, it is becoming vital for patients to become better informed about their own health. With Isabel now available and integrated on the highly respected Patient website, patients have a powerful tool to help them research their health effectively. "
Dr Mark Dayer, a Consultant Cardiologist at Musgrove Park Hospital says, "Isabel powers the new symptom checker. It is the best-validated system on the market and has helped many doctors and patients get to the right diagnosis. Furthermore, it has links to carefully curated information to help patients understand more about their condition, and gives clear advice about what to do next."
1. Grazia magazine, published week ending 8 August 2014.