How we are going to play doctor ourselves
Guest blog by Sebastiaan Eikholt
Before the digital age, it was natural to immediately see a general practitioner in the event of ailments. Or at least a well-known doctor, such as an uncle or niece in the family. But that wasn't always nice. It is after all a certain form of privacy that was given up, while there was not always something wrong. And that made many people more reluctant to test themselves for a certain condition.
Today it is all different. On the television we are constantly reminded of the possible aches and pains we have. Suffering from heartburn? Then take this. Do you have pain in the gut? Then use that. You would almost believe that it is normal to walk around with all these ailments. Luckily you can always online search whether the painful heartburn actually means you are taking the medicine from the TV commercial should swallow. It is doubtful whether it has gotten any better with all the information on the web.
You depend on the expertise on a website and you still try to find your own truth. Does one website say I'm sick? Then we just keep looking until we read that nothing is wrong! Nevertheless, it does not mean that your symptoms actually result in a condition. But it can provide a certain amount of reassurance. That the dizziness you have doesn't necessarily mean that you diabetes have incurred. Or that a lump means you have cancer. But it is a good idea to go to the doctor to know for sure whether there is actually a danger.
More and more we see that the medical world is getting closer to us. The heart rate measurement can be accomplished with a watch. In addition, the number of burnt calories and steps taken can be retrieved with the smartphone. But those are harmless measurements that more determine the condition and make you aware of your overweight beer belly. A more prominent development is being able to perform medical tests from home. Using reliable and accurate measurements, a self-test can be performed, which tests for STIs or diabetes, for example.
It does not mean that a doctor can be replaced, but it does remove a barrier. The lack of a barrier ensures that a definite answer can be given at an early stage about a particular condition. If you suffer from a burning sensation while urinating, the outcome may be that you have tested positive for chlamydia. And then it's time to go to the doctor with the results. But if you test negative and the burning sensation remains, there may be another condition. Also a time to visit the doctor!
Yet we see more and more self-tests appearing on the market that can test for multiple conditions. And with STIs, it allows targeted measurement. I predict that the doctor will come closer and closer to us in the coming years. That we over-the-counter products have for almost all ailments. Think of a blood test, from which a lot can be deduced. And that we also get the medication ourselves. And that the GP only talks to you online. During the online conversation, just turn your phone and show the spot on the skin that you think is wrong. We no longer have to sit awkwardly in the waiting room with the neighbors. At least we got out the door.