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This question [ How to proceed when doctors can't help ] brought up an interesting question I've been wanting to ask.

((Please edit this if I'm not supposed to mention other sites. I looked and looked through the help files and meta questions, but didn't find anything on how to approach this.))

There ARE some websites that are designed differently and DO offer medical advice.

Is there a policy on whether it's appropriate to mention those sites in some circumstances? Or create a meta with those sites listed, and we can copy that meta q link into our comments?

Example: HealthTap. This is not an advertisement, I have nothing to do with them. I am familiar with it because I ASKED a couple questions on it years ago. I know a doctor who answers questions on it (and he is a pathologist who doesn't see patients so he's not recruiting business).

It has actual physicians answering questions. They prove their credentials and are listed by their real name/photo. Posters input a bunch of background info, meds, allergies, etc etc before they can ask a question. So they do allow medical advice questions, at a basic level. I felt the answers I received were good albeit brief, and at least helped guide me.

A caveat is that they DO offer telemedicine with video consults and such, so there is a commercial element to it not just altruism. Some of the doctors who answer questions I'm sure are doing it as advertising, as you can link to your own practice website etc.

Pro: It's a website that actually DOES what half of our questions here are asking for, and would likely help some of our question-askers find an answer that they came here hoping to get.

Con: It's not like putting a reference to AAFP or wikipedia, it has a commercial side to it. And it's not endorsed by SE or anything.

So to rephrase my question:

If someone asks something like in the above post, "If I can't get medical advice here and there are no doctors I can get in to see (or am not happy with whom I've seen so far) then where online can I go for advice?" are we able to point out other sites?

Could/should we create a meta post with a list of resources for things that we can't do here, such as that? We would obviously give disclaimers that they are not recommended or approved by SE.

Or is that a rabbit hole we don't want to even consider going down?

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That's a rabbit hole I don't want to consider to get down because nothing, absolutely nothing is as good as seeing a doctor in person.

Online diagnosis may work sometimes, but in the end, one will still need to consult a clinic/doctor/pharmacy for actual treatment, so there is no point of doing that in the first place.

We can answer general questions about issues here (and edit off-topic questions to make them adhere to the scope), but for the same reason we will not diagnose anyone, I doubt that the sites would go a lot further. And if they do, they are risking the patients health.

So no, let's not actively encourage people to go to such websites. The only thing I would consider fair practice is the following comment:

It is always better to consult a doctor, and other websites will direct you to a physician sooner or later. However, websites that offer personal medical advice do exist and can be found online

This comment doesn't recommend any particular service but just tells the OP about the existence of such sites.

  • Nothing is as good as in person, I agree. But Telemedicine is a field for a reason. There aren't enough physicians to serve many populations, people live in remote areas, etc. There are ways to do fairly well online for many things IF THE SYSTEM IS APPROPRIATELY DESIGNED. From what I've seen I think they do a good job of navigating that boundary. They are an alternative for some circumstances. – DoctorWhom Aug 16 '17 at 15:28
  • I just don't want to outright dismiss this. I think we at least need to discuss it to be able to reach a consensus on what and why we mention. I do like the quote. – DoctorWhom Aug 16 '17 at 15:32
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    @DoctorWhom Sure. I don't think we should advertise any product, and I get the impression that the application for such a forum is quite limited. Whenever that would help, I'd go with my quote or something similar. – Narusan Aug 17 '17 at 19:08

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