Online Symptom Checkers are Poor Tools for Diagnosing Men's Health Conditions.

To analyze the accuracy of the four most commonly used online symptom checkers (OSCs) in diagnosing erectile dysfunction (ED), scrotal pain (SP), Peyronie's disease (PD), and low testosterone (LT).

One-hundred and sixty artificial vignettes were created by de-identifying recent initial outpatient consults presenting to discuss ED (40), SP (40), PD (40), and LT (40). The vignettes were entered into the 4 most frequently used OSCs (WebMD, MedicineNet, EverydayHealth, and SutterHealth) as determined by web traffic analysis tools. The top 5 conditions listed in the OSC differential diagnosis were recorded and scored.

WebMD's accuracy for ED, SP, PD, and LT vignettes was 0%, 22.5%, 0%, and 95%, respectively. EverydayHealth was only able to diagnose SP 20% of the time, and failed to diagnose ED, PD, or LT on all occasions. MedicineNet diagnosed ED, PD, SP, and LT in 100%, 98%, 27.5%, and 0% of vignettes, respectively. SutterHealth correctly diagnosed ED, SP, and LT in 100%, 20%, and 80% of patients, respectively. Cumulatively, the OSCs were most accurate in diagnosing ED and least accurate in diagnosing SP when using the Top 1 (37.5% vs. 6.9%) and Top 5 (50% vs. 24.5%) of the suggested conditions.

No OSC could accurately diagnose all the conditions tested. The OSCs, on average, were poor at suggesting precise diagnoses for ED, PD, LT, SP. Patients and practitioners should be cautioned regarding the accuracy of OSCs.

Urology. 2022 Sep 14 [Epub ahead of print]

Rutul Patel, Amanda R Swanton, Martin S Gross

New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, Old Westbury, NY, USA., Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH, USA., Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH, USA. Electronic address: .